Smith: Padiham squad strong enough to bring success
Manager Liam Smith believes that he's built a squad strong enough to get the Storks out of the Hallmark Security Premier Division next season.
The joint boss at the Ruby Civil Arena, who governs Padiham alongside Dixon Lambert, has completely changed the make-up of the group since succeeding long-serving manager Steve Wilkes at the helm and he’s more than satisfied with the progress of the club’s project so far.
The former Colne FC assistant could be considered as the non-league equivalent of Claudio Ranieri, the ‘Tinkerman’ of the ninth tier, but the transformation has been a necessity in matching Smith’s level of ambition.
“We’ve added eight or nine new faces now so I’m looking forward to seeing them come together and help push us to the next level,” he said.
“We’re building towards next season and the squad that we’ve got here is the strongest that we’ve had for a long time.
“Results will hopefully match the strength of our side. I believe this squad is more than capable of embarking on a long sequence of wins.
“Changes needed to be made, we’ve been gradually strengthening since we took over, and we’ve only added if the players can improve on what we’ve got.
“We’re looking at the longer term now and we’ll definitely be up there next season with what we’ve got. We’ll never stop looking for ways to improve though because we don’t want to just settle for what we’ve got.
“We always want to get better but the current crop of players here are more than capable of succeeding in this division.”
Smith, an arm of Steve Cunningham’s title-winning management team in 2015/16, has put most of the pieces of the puzzle in place and he plugged a few more gaps with the additions of prolific striker Ollie Wood and midfielder Charlie Russell.
According to Smith, the duo’s arrival is a real signal of intent from the club and he is adamant that they have the quality to really stand out and make the difference at this level.
“Ollie scored 26 goals for Colne in the Evo-Stik First Division North,” he said. “He’s never played at this level before but we’re expecting big things from him.
“He went to Lancaster and lost his way a little bit but we’re confident that he can help to propel us up this league.
“Charlie is a real coup for this football club. He has played virtually every game for Clitheroe in the centre of their midfield for the past two seasons.
“This signing is a real statement, it illustrates the calibre of players that we’re attracting. I’m looking forward to seeing them both in a Padiham shirt. They’re both great additions who will move this club forward.
“They’re two of the best players at this level. Ollie is a fantastic goalscorer and he works hard for the team. He’s 6ft 4in but he’s not just a big man.
“He’s got a bit of everything. He scored 26 goals in the division above so we’re hoping he can regain his goalscoring form and push us on.
“People are starting to see what we’re doing here at Padiham Football Club. They are starting to take note. Charlie has been at Stockport County and that signing demonstrates what we are trying to build here.
“It’s a project which is a really attractive proposition for players. These signings are a statement of our intent and they’ll really compliment what we’ve already got here.”
Pre-season starts now for Smith’s side as they look to get up a full head of steam with next term’s proposed promotion push in mind.
Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the Select Security Stadium to tackle in-form Widnes, the Arbories chief added: “We want to finish in the top five this year which will be the club’s highest position for a while. Then we’re hoping to keep bettering ourselves.
“Our ambition next season is to win the league and gain promotion to the Evo-Stik. We will do everything that we can in the meantime to help us achieve that.
“Our pre-season for next term begins now. We’re already preparing for next season and players are already fighting to keep their shirt.
“We want to get out of this division so we’ve got to knuckle down and try to win every game possible to generate that winning mentality. We want to give ourselves a head start on the rest.”