Marine manager Neil Young says they are looking to be ‘really competitive’ next season after agreeing a four-year deal at Rossett Park.
The Mariners finished seven points off the playoff places as they saw their hopes fade in the latter stages of the season. However, they marked their return to the Northern Premier League – Premier Division with a top-half finish and the highest among the promoted clubs.
They capped their campaign with a penalty shootout win over Runcorn Linnets in the Liverpool Senior Cup final that meant they etched their name on the trophy for the first time since 2008.
While the season was positive for a number of reasons, there was still a twinge of personal disappointment for how it ended. He told Off The Park: “It’s a positive season in many aspects topped off by winning the Liverpool Senior Cup, it’s a trophy that the club haven’t won in 15 years and carries on from the excellent work in the last three or four years.
“Although we finished ninth and I think that’s our highest finish in 10 or 11 years as a club but for me personally, we could’ve delivered a better result.
“I’m not looking for excuses but you only have to look at last Saturday having 15 players missing to injuries and suspensions have been our downfall, mainly injuries and at this level, when you lose that many players it’s difficult to be able to compete week in, week out and I think it was proven at Matlock.
“They wasn’t great, we wasn’t great but they’ve scored from a set piece and we’re miles off where I wanted us to be on that day and they’re going for the playoffs.
“No one has been much better than us, we’ve competed in every game just a bit disappointing that we wasn’t able to reach the playoffs, we only missed out by six points and we only took three points out of the last 18 but that was mainly due to the availability of players especially players at the top of the pitch; Jack Dunn, Jake Burton, Craig Curran, Louis Britton, it’s going to be difficult to replace all them.”
Warrington Town host Bamber Bridge in the playoff final for a place in the National League North with South Shields. Macclesfield are among the clubs joining Marine in the Premier Division next season after they made it back-to-back promotions.
And Young has in his sights on what they need to do to improve next season. He continued: “You’re always learning, I don’t think I’ve learned in terms of the overall aspect because I’ve been doing this a long time.
“In terms of learning, game by game because of players but nothing that I haven’t encountered before. What I do know is where we’re at, what we need to do, I’ve been in this league and won it before so I’m aware of what’s required, we’ll be doing everything we can to be really competitive next year.”
Following the season falling on their league campaign, it was announced that he would remain in post for a further four years. On his extension, Young said: “When the club came to me last time to sign for three years during the FA Cup run, I’ve always had this aspiration to potentially try and go into a football club in a role higher up like a Head of Football.
“But when I sat down with the club, pre-Christmas, we’ve done a lot of work, I’m enjoying it, it’s local for me, we’re only a quarter of the way through what’s achievable I think so I thought why hand that over to someone else when we’ve put the hard yards in?
“There’s still a lot to go but we know where are as a football club, I know where we are from a team perspective, we’ve got to improve on and off the pitch but I thought it was a good opportunity.
“The club have backed me with the length of contract because I think they realise how I manage the back office of the club, I think they appreciate that I don’t just manage the on-the-field stuff but off-the-field which assists them in their goals.
“There’s going to be teams coming down from the Conference North, Macclesfield are coming into the league so it’s going to be very very difficult but I want us to be better at what we do, I want us to be competitive in games and to be able to do that, we’ve got to improve on and off the pitch,” said the Marine boss.
“It’s not going to be easy but we’ve got to be aiming for the playoffs, we’ve had our taster and now we’ve got to aim for reaching at least the playoffs.
“Winning it is going to be difficult with one team going up but if we’re in and around the playoffs, the crowds are still coming in as they are, home and away support has been fantastic, if we can keep that feel-good factor, as a club we’re establishing what we’re trying to do.
“There’s no short-termism we have to make sure we do this over a longer period, we’ve got bigger plans going forward but they can only be achieved in a structured way. We’ve done that this year that we’ve managed the playing budget and we’ll do exactly the same next year.”