Bootle manager Brian Richardson has hailed Leek Town as they pair meet on the opening day of the Northern Premier League West.
The Bucks kick off their campaign at home against Leek as they look to continue the good work under Richardson.
First off, they welcome last season’s playoff semi-finals to the Berry Street Garage Stadium in a tough test.
But for the Bootle manager, he has spoken about this weekend’s opponents as well as the standard of the competition in the league.
He told Off The Park: “Leek, over the years, have been in playoffs, got beat by Radcliffe a couple of years ago then got beat by Runcorn Linnets.
“They’ve always been a good side, they’ve got a good manager, they played the right way and they’re very organised. I was thinking it’s not the easiest start but to be fair, when you look at it, it looks like this year’s going to be a lot more difficult league than it was last year.
“I think it’ll be a strong league, new managers, new players, everyone starts with that renewed ambition. Macclesfield will be strong favourites but there are some dark horses in there who could do well and Leek will be one of them teams.
“You never want to start badly, do you?” Richardson quipped after he was asked about the importance of a good start.
“But you don’t have any control over that. It was a slow start that they had last year and played catch-up for most of the season, although, I think the team recovered well.”
Under Richardson, Bootle enjoyed a turnaround that saw them as playoff contenders. This time around, the ambition and target remain the same.
He revealed: “If you can get a few points on the board early doors, we’ve always said if you get at least two points a game you hit the playoffs, that’s got to be the players’ target.
“Realistically that might not be the case but that’s your target and you keep going back to that target. You can’t predict anything week-to-week in football so you’ve just got to go with it, roll with it as it comes, throw a punches and taking a few as well.
“We’ve got a sprinkling of new players coming in, we’re in the process of those lads trying to weld them together. We had one or two losses, Carbs (Michael Carberry) went to Southport, Belly (Will Bell) went to Macclesfield, we felt we needed competition in certain areas we brought in.
“Like any club you’re never finished because if other players become available and they’re better than what you’ve got, you’ve got to make a bid for them to keep everybody on their toes.
“We’re looking to start well, play some attractive football and we’re looking to get some points on the board. Hopefully, if we stick to our targets, we will certainly be in or around the playoffs.”