Blyth Spartans manager Tom Wade has blamed last year’s failure to land the Evo-Stik League title on a lack of strength in depth, but insists that will not be a problem for his side this time round.
Speaking at the club’s open forum evening on Thursday night, Wade opened up and admitted that some players were overplayed last term – as Spartans finished the season second place in the Evo-Stik Premier Division, before crashing out of the playoffs following a 3-4 defeat to Workington.
However, the Blyth boss is adamant that lessons have been learnt from those mistakes and that this has been proven in the club’s recruitment this summer.
Wade said: “Last season wasn’t so much that we didn’t have enough quality in the squad, but we didn’t have enough depth to rest people. When we were bringing people on, they probably weren’t as strong as the lads we were taking off.
“[This season] we’ve brought seven, possibly eight, players in.
“We’ve brought in Matty Pattison, who is an absolutely top-draw player. He has played in the Champions League and has experience with the South African national team, so it’s a real coup for the club that he’s here.
“Michael Liddle has come in to replace Jordan Watson, who I think has been one of the best players for us during my time here and one of the most consistent.
“This lad is better, I have to say. He’s played at Accrington Stanley and Sunderland before that, he’s fit as a lop and is another top-draw signing. He’s going to be a great asset for us.
In addition to two of the new ‘marquee’ signings this summer, Wade was quick to praise new young talent Luke Armstrong and Zak Atkinson and expressed his delight at getting them both in for the 2016/17 season.
He added: “Luke was with Birmingham when we faced them in the FA Cup but didn’t get in the squad and we tried to get him at the end of that season, but we’ve managed to sign him second time around.
“Zak played for Blyth Town last season and is one for the future. He’s a strong kid, looks very pacy and, obviously, that puts pressure on Danny [Maguire].
“Danny’s probably looked a bit tired in games at times, but he’s kept on playing, Now we’ve got options to cover that position as well.”
As well as a host of new faces, Spartans have also welcomed back a number of familiar faces for the new campaign – with Peter Jeffries, Richard Pell, Matthew Wade and Jarrett Rivers all making a comeback to Croft Park – and the Blyth gaffer is delighted to see them return.
Wade said: “This dressing room is one of the best around and players find it hard to leave it. The fact we have the likes of Rivers and Jeffries coming back proves that and it strengthens us.
“Adam McHugh has improved massively since Peter’s return, so it’s good to have cover all over the park.”
With added strength comes the added problem of picking a team from those available, although Wade insists that he’s happy to suffer any selection headaches ahead of Saturday’s visit of Coalville Town.
Wade said: “We’ve got a squad now where we can pick any 11 from the 18-19 available and it doesn’t weaken the side. We are in the very, very fortunate position that we have a fantastic squad.
“We’re going to struggle to pick a starting 11 for Saturday, but we’re ready for it.”