City of Liverpool manager Michael Ellison was left frustrated by their showing throughout the campaign but expressed relief to see the back of it.
The Purps managed a respectful top-half finish in the Northern Premier League West but saw their season end with double figures in wins, draws and defeats.
Ellison’s side were one of the worst hit for injuries during their campaign and was forced to deal with a lack of continuity in midfield and defence.
“All in all to finish ninth, I think firstly we finished where we deserved to finish the league table doesn’t lie, that’s the truth,” he told Off The Park.
“I’d have to say a little bit disappointed because it wasn’t where we wanted to finish, we wanted to finish in the mix for those playoff places and we certainly never quite were and that’s the truth of it. To finish ninth with what we had to deal with throughout the season, you’d have to look at it as a positive. Not where we wanted to be but you know, we’ll take it.”
On their injury problems during the season, he added: “I’ve spoken about it quite a lot throughout the season and maybe some people think I’m banging on and using it as an excuse, it’s not an excuse, it’s just fact and it got to the point where it was really tough.
“I remember after the Bootle game, we had to change our whole back four at half time and I was worried we wouldn’t be able to get a team out for the Tuesday night game against Widnes, on that day we signed two players in James Steele and young Ollie on loan from Oldham, that’s been the story of our season the amount of times we’ve had to bring players in on the day and play them in the game that night, it’s unheard of. We’ve done that throughout the season, I was going over it with my staff, reflecting on the season it’s crazy the amount of times we’ve had to do that.
“There’s times where you do it once or twice a season but to be signing players on the day and bringing them in, going on the recommendation before they’ve kicked a ball, it’s unheard of. It was tough, I’ve been involved in non league football for 20 years now as a player and manager, it’s the toughest time I’ve had.
“The injury situation,” he laughed. “I don’t know what the word is to describe it, I know it wasn’t just us, I speak to Youngy (Neil Young) quite a lot and his injury problems was up there as well, there’s was ridiculous, other clubs up there as well I think Covid, that long break off and having Saturday-Tuesday caught up with everyone and we just got the worst of it I think.
“We’ve had some really, really good performances beating some good sides beat sides who finished in the playoffs and we just never got that consistency throughout the season. I read some stats to the players and you don’t need to be Pep (Guardiola) to see where it went wrong.
“We’ve conceded what we scored, we ended winning a third of our games, drawing a third of our games and losing a third of our games, it’s a bang average season really. Again, if you look at those stats and the goal difference to finish ninth I think is decent with those stats.
“There’s been some good performances throughout but you need consistency if you want to be pushing for those playoff places and we couldn’t get that with team selection and ultimately that showed on the pitch.
“I think we drew 11 games if you turn half of those into wins which we should’ve done, I look back at some performances like the Market Drayton game at home, Kendal at home, there’s a couple of points there that we threw away which we’d of got it’d make it more interesting but unfortunately we were unable to. It’s not just injuries, we have to look at ourselves as a team there was games we should’ve won when we had lads fit, we were unable to do that.”
One of the darker days in their season saw them on the receiving end of a sobering defeat to Clitheroe, a performance, the City of Liverpool boss lambasts, he continued: “The performance (away to Clitheroe) was unacceptable, I think the week before we played Rylands and the first half we had a poor first half and the games leading up to that we’d have 20-45 minute spells where we defended poorly so it was coming I think.
“That was a day, it was unacceptable, a tough day, it was a game where if anyone knows me, played for me or knows any of my sides that’s just not what my sides are like, we don’t roll over for anybody and that day we rolled over. On the flip side, sometimes you need that and at the time it wasn’t very nice but reflecting on it, it was something you think we’ve got to change things and I think it gave everyone a kick up the backside.
“The response from it, I think we only lost one after that and kept a couple of clean sheets on the bounce and made a lot of changes – some enforced, some we felt the lads who performed we felt were unacceptable and they wouldn’t be playing for the club again. It was a tough day, poor performance, one that really disappointed me but the response was fantastic, to only lose one until the end of the season was a good response.
“Going back to Bootle I think is a massive plus. First of all, it’s where we want to be, in the city. It’s better for our fans, we’ll get more bums on seats and that’s no disrespect to Vauxhall’s the chairman had tough decisions to make and they helped us out when we needed them.
“It hasn’t worked, I think Bootle’s much, much better, bums on seats, fans through the gate and ultimately the playing surface will be there so we’ll be able to play the way we want to play. We have got footballers in the team and you need two things to play football, one the players and two the conditions. I feel we’ll have that so I’m looking forward to next season and looking forward to being back at Bootle I really am.”
*Interview conducted in May.