Liam Harrold’s brief for his first managerial job couldn’t be any more straightforward.
The well-travelled striker has been invited to lead Whittlesey Athletic into the United Counties League and they’ll only achieve that by winning the Peterborough Premier Division this coming season.
The resignation of previous boss Andy Lodge came as a surprise to the local football scene last week as did the rapid appointment of Harrold, especially as the pair are business partners and Lodge cited work commitments as his reason for stepping down!
Lodge led the team - they played as Coates Athletic last season - to runners-up in the Premier Division and victory in a thrilling PFA Senior Cup Final against Netherton at the ABAX Stadium.
“I’m lazier than Andy, on the pitch and at work,” Harrold quipped. “But seriously Andy’s role in the business involves working and taking important calls on Saturdays.
“That’s the only reason he quit. He’s not about to shoot off and manage elsewhere.
“I had never thought about managing until Andy made his decision last Wednesday night, but it struck me immediately how important it would be that his great work at the club wasn’t wasted.
“I felt I could keep a great bunch of lads together so I put my hat in the ring with the chairman, Wayne Gale.
“He told me that a couple of other people had enquired about the job, but within 24 hours he had offered it to me.
“Wayne told me he expects United Counties League football and that is what we will try and achieve.
“I guess we will be favourites to win the league now that Oakham (last season’s champions) have left, but we won’t be taking anything for granted. There are some good teams and some excellent players in the competition.
“I will say though that I will be managing the best set of lads I have ever been involved with and I’m looking forward to the challenge of delivering success.
“I’ve never stayed anywhere longer than two seasons, but this will be my third season at Whittlesey which says a lot really.
“ I’ve already started thinking like a manager rather than a player.”
Harrold (34), who scored 17 top flight goals last season, intends to keep playing when required, but he has appointed well-known local goalkeeper Nick Conroy as his assistant manager.
Conroy will not play as Whittlesey believe they have the best goalkeeper in the league in Lewis Moat anyway.
Whittlesey open their pre-season programme against United Counties Division One sisde Blackstones on Saturday, July 25.
They then tackle another club from the same division, PSL, before taking on Moulton Harrox for the Jack Hogg Charity Shield at Chestnut Avenue on Friday, August 7.
Whittlesey, who have retained all of last season’s playing squad, open their league season at home to Thorney on Tuesday, August 11.
The club are confident their Feldale Field base will be up to United Counties League standard in time to pass the necessary inspections.
Whittlesey have appointed former Baston and ICA Sports manager Leighton Atkin to run their reserve team.
Netherton will be one of Whittlesey’s main rivals for the Peterborough League title and they’ve already played three friendlies against United Counties League teams on their 3G surface at the Grange.
The city side drew 1-1 with Blackstones, lost 4-2 to Bourne and beat PSL 3-2 with goals from Tom Randall (2) and Ben Daly.
Netherton will open the new Premier Division season with a game at newly-promoted Ketton on Saturday, August 1 as part of the Ground Hopper Day.
Premier Division side Langtoft United have appointed Ryan Hunnings as their new manager.