Atherton LR’s long stay in the NWCFL stretching back to the founding year of 1982 nearly came to an end last season as they finished bottom of the First Division North, however a reprieve has meant David Jones’ side have another chance to assert themselves in the competitive league.
Jones explained, "It's been one of the worst situations as a manager you could come into, I took over after the last game at the end of last season and decided the only way forward is to completely bring in a whole new squad, the quality was poor, no cohesion, no motivation and it needed a new approach.”
Off the field, Atherton have been working hard and now have a new committee, new Chairman, new Directors, new Sponsors coming on board, so the outlook is positive off the field.
On it, Jones has started to put a squad he believes will at least put some pride back into the club, "It was important to provide some expectations and guidelines to the players and maintain a standard of ensuring so far they (the players) meet those standards. If not, I have already let players during pre-season go elsewhere because they haven't meet the standard or expectation, regardless of the player's ability".
"You can't have the tail wagging the dog, players have to be held to the same standard and if they refuse or don't meet that expectation you have to get rid before that negativity infests the rest of the squad and club as a whole, regardless of how good they are!"
"I am a realist and in this job an optimist for sure, otherwise I shouldn't be in management. I certainly am impressed with the quality of the lads we have together so far. We started pre-season early (11th June) and since then we have averaged about 28-30 lads each session, so that's pleasing.”
In a season designed for consolidation off the pitch, Atherton LR's Manager David Jones is determined to ensure Atherton LR become much more competitive on it, instead of being viewed as the perennial whipping boys as in past seasons.
"At the same time, I know how hard it is in this league, every point gained is a point earned. While I wouldn't expect us to be winning every game, I certainly feel more confident as each session goes on that we will certainly be harder to beat and cause a few surprises this coming season."
Atherton LR's first pre-season game is against FC Oswestry Town on Saturday 6th July, 3.00 pm kick-off. at Crilly Park.