After bringing an end to the 2013/14 campaign, Blues boss Simon Garner admitted that his first taste of management has been a real ‘eye opener’.
The former Fleetwood Town, Halifax, Stalybridge, FC United and Chorley midfielder, who started his playing career at Shawbridge as a 19-year-old, took over the reins at the club in October following the dismissal of Paul Moore.
After kickstarting his tenure with a 2-2 draw against Wigan Robin Park in the LFA Trophy on home soil, Garner went on to guide the Blues to a 19-point haul from eight Evo-Stik First Division North fixtures which included victory over previous employers Northwich Victoria.
However, after temporarily flirting with the play-off spots in England’s eighth tier on the football pyramid, the club slipped down the table after picking up just 12 points from 22 outings.
Following defeat to Padiham in the derby at the Arbories on the final day of the season, Garner said: “It’s not the ideal finish. I’m glad to be seeing the back of it to be honest. We didn’t finish on a good run at all. There’s been more downs than ups since we’ve taken charge but we’ve learnt from the experience and that will help us build towards next year.
“We’ve got plenty of work to do in the summer because we need to build a team that can get results at this level. We are really disappointed, especially after ending the season with defeat to rivals Padiham who will finish below us in the table. It’s not good enough.
“It’s shown us which players are good enough at this level and which players have fallen short. Recent games have proven that to us and shown that we can’t stick with the same squad. We need to make changes.”
Garner, who plans to make wholesale changes to his squad in the summer, added: “This experience has been a massive eye opener and I now have a lot more respect for the managers that I’ve played under during my career.
“It’s a difficult job and it takes a lot of committment. It’s hard when you’re not getting the rewards for the effort that’s being put in. You can’t enjoy it when you’re losing every week but it’s up to me and my staff to put it right.
“We probably need between six and 10 additions. We’ll probably have half the squad staying. We know what we need and we know what we want. I’ve identified a number of targets and spoken to a few but we need to wait until the season is completely finished.”