Lancaster City manager Mark Fell is looking forward to the opportunity of putting his full stamp on the club this summer.
The Dolly Blues boss arrived at Giant Axe in October – very much brought to the club in a fire-fighting capacity initially, with the team rock bottom of the NPL Premier Division.
Fortunately, Fell was able to galvanise the club to such an extent that they ended the campaign in a midtable position although it was not until the final few weeks of the season that safety was mathematically assured.
The City boss admits last season was all about getting results, with not much time to focus on much else.
However, with the pressure off and a full pre-season to look forward to, Fell is looking forward to making his mark in terms of the squad and style of play.
“I am really looking forward to pre-season,” said Fell.
“We have planned it in great detail and have been planning it for while.
“We want to take the boys away, obviously locally, but I think that will be of great benefit from a team bonding perspective.
“I enjoy the planning, I enjoy the detail.
“Last year during pre-season, the club was very much victims because the summer was so hot.
“That affected the pitch which meant it was not quite ready for the pre-season games.
“That probably had an effect going into the season.
“We have done some renovation work on the pitch – we probably just need a bit of rain now.
“But yeah I’m looking forward to putting forward what I want from the lads in terms of style, work rate, resilience.
“We need a tough, hard pre-season. They will be coming in for double sessions and working really hard.
“They will be working really hard knowing the reasons why and that is come the first league game on August 17th they will be ready.”
Fell is already in the process of finalising the team’s pre-season fixtures and away games against Clitheroe, Squires Gate and Charnock Richard have already been agreed.
“The lads return to training on June 22,” he said.
“I think that’s seven weeks from now.
“We will have a couple of weeks and then we will start playing games.
“As well as the three away games, I am confident that we have got two games against National League opposition.
“I am hoping to have a Football League club down at Giant Axe as well.
“The problem is that everybody else begins their league campaign on August 3 and the the Northern Premier League kicks-off on August 17.
He said: “For some bizarre reason our league kicks off two weeks after everybody else. So unfortunately, we can’t play any teams from the league above on the 3rd and the 10th and in midweek.”
Meanwhile, Fell revealed that he has held positive discussions with all of his current squad following the end of the season.
The contracted players – Matty Blinkhorn, Rob Wilson, Paul Dugdale, Sam Bailey, Brad Carsley and David Norris – have all been offered new deals.
And the rest of the squad have also been offered fresh terms to stay.
Fell admits it may be that some players leave the club, but he is confident the vast majority will remain.
“I have spoken to them all,” saidFell, who is hopeful of making his first signing next week. “We are just doing the last bit of negotiation and making sure everybody is happy.
“The reaction we have had from the lads has been really positive.
“But it’s that time of the year when other managers will be speaking to players, like I am. I am not naive enough to think that nobody will leave.”