Warrington Rylands manager Michael Clegg has expressed his regret at their slow start after succeeding Jody Banim.
The Blues finished their first season in the Northern Premier League strongly as they enjoyed a five-match unbeaten run which helped them to a top-half finish.
Clegg became Rylands‘ third manager of the season following the departures of David McNabb and Jody Banim as he was tasked with steering them to the end of the season.
After a slow start which saw two defeats and two draws, they lost just one in six. Speaking to Off The Park, the Rylands boss said: “Being ultra self-critical, I probably should’ve got a bit tougher from the start. I think I’ve wasted too much time and I feel guilty about that for letting the lads down.
“From the first session, we could see some things were wrong, I should’ve dealt with it straight away and I gave people a chance, I give them a couple of weeks and we didn’t win in that time. I knew from the first minute where the problems was and I didn’t want to be too ruthless, I couldn’t get my players in quick enough.
“If things had went differently, I think we could’ve ended it a lot stronger than we did and that’s not being disrespectful to the lads, I just knew some lads didn’t want to be there and were unfit, not match fit or buying into what was the club was but we couldn’t get people in quick enough, that took us three or four games to do but when we did that, we flew.”
There are cuts in place to help the Gorsey Lane club in their pursuit of sustainability but they are looking to create a clear identity and path to the first-team.
Their loanees will return to their respective clubs but Clegg insists the club are looking to build. He added: “We’ve got a clear plan in place this year, we want to go into next year playing some good football, we want a younger, energetic side, we’ve already made offers to the current squad members that we want to keep, they’ll have a couple of weeks to think about that.
“We’d like to think they want to stick with us after seeing what we can bring. Our recruitment is underway, we’re targeting a certain type of player, we aren’t going to be paying through our noses or in any bidding wars with players, if they want to come they can come and if they believe in what we’re trying to achieve, for us, we want to build now and put a team together who we can work with for the next couple of years.
“We’ve verbally agreed with three or four already and we think they will really enhance what we’ve got. We want to be a bit younger, athletic, play football, we want to give them a team to be proud of and I think we did that towards the end of the season.
“If we could’ve kept all these next year, we’d have a good year but ultimately, your loans go back, players move on and then it’s up to us to get the recruitment right.
“With the cuts were having in the budget, we’re going to have to be creative with it, there will be room for a youth team player most weeks, a couple of loans and that’s how we’ll be looking to build it.
“It just wasn’t sustainable what happened this year, the cut for me has been positive,” he continued. “The drop in budget has made it more realistic to work with, you’re going to have to be creative with the budget to get that special player but I think it was putting the club under a lot of strain.
“We’ve gone to an average budget whereas it was high this year, we’re going to have to be creative, with Nicky Hunt and Lewis Hardcastle on the backroom staff, we’ve got good connections for loans, we’ve got a good youth section and we’ve got some very very good players wanting to come in and want to stay.
“With the budget we’ve been given, we feel that we can do that, we won’t be paying daft figures for big hitters in the summer, it’s not the way we want to go as a club.
“What this year has made the committee and chairman know is who they want to be, they want to go back to how it was, I think they’ve learned a lot of lessons this year.”