NEW Blues boss Paul Moore has been buoyed by the response of his squad since their return to pre-season training.
Moore was appointed Clitheroe manager in early May, but had to wait until mid-June for the opportunity to meet the players and work with them for the first time.
But he, along with the coaching staff, have now had three weeks to adhere to the surroundings and personnel, and implement their ideas and philosophies at Shawbridge.
“It’s been brilliant, absolutely fabulous,” said Moore.
“We’re going in to our third week of pre-season and we’re just working towards our in-house game on July 14th now in preparation for the friendly against Maine Road on July 17th.
“It will just be a simulation match with the squad, putting in to practice what they’ve been doing in training.
“It will provide me with a better idea of what I’m working with and will give me the chance to experiment a bit.
“I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. I’m pleased with the attitude and application of the lads.
“They’ve been organised, listened to instructions and they’ve responded to what I’ve asked of them in a positive manner.
“They seem to have enjoyed pre-season training so far. I think they were expecting to be run to death but they’ve been doing a lot of work with the football.
“I think they were pleasantly surprised.”
Clitheroe culminated the 2011/12 campaign in 19th place, precariously above the Evo-Stik First Division (North) relegation zone, during a season which saw inconsistency and disruption in playing staff.
In total, 70 players were registered, but Moore won’t allow that to happen during his reign.
So far goalkeepers Hakan Burton, Fariah Jackson and Stefan Holden have been drafted in to the ranks, along with defender Rob Flynn, midfielder Anthony Daniels, winger Danny Bell, and forwards Connor Singleton and Jordan William.
“I’ve been looking towards stability in the playing staff because continuity is important,” said Moore.
“We can’t afford to chop and change and work with 70 players like last season.
“We need to stick with these players, work with them, so there’s that familiarity and so the supporters can identify.
“We need to develop a specific pattern of play, stick with it and make it work.
“We don’t want interruption. We need that continuity to flow right through the club.
“The signs from the first couple of weeks are very good. There won’t be a massive overhaul or disruption.
“It’s a case of fine-tuning, getting the players to believe and bringing the right calibre of players in where necessary.”
The Blues lost 14 league games by a solitary goal last term, a statistic Moore is looking to put right.
He’s determined to install a team ethic and mentality that makes them resolute and hard to beat, working hard as an entire unit, before hitting teams and punishing the opposition on the break.
“You can’t afford to work solely on different positions because it’s important to get the team working as a unit,” Moore said.
“We don’t work with a defensive four, we work with a defensive 11. I’ve had everyone working together and integrated the team.
“Defending starts when the ball is with their keeper or defender, so we have to work hard to protect our back-line in the first place.
“We need to find that balance. We want to prevent teams from hurting us but at the same time we want to hurt them when they’re not expecting it.
“There’s a period in every game where teams suffer a lull, and we’ll be looking to hit teams and exploit that during those periods.”
Clitheroe’s first warm-up match for the 2012/13 campaign is against NWC Premier Division outfit Maine Road at Shawbridge on Tuesday, July 17th (kick-off 7-45 p.m.).
The Blues then entertain Runcorn Linnets on Saturday, July 21st (3 p.m.).
They then travel to Barnton, in Cheshire, on Tuesday, July 24th.
Shawbridge will then host fixtures against Silsden and Airbus UK on Saturday, July 28th, and Saturday, August 4th respectively (both 3 p.m.).
Clitheroe’s final preparation game sees the Blues host npower Football League Two club Morecambe on Monday, August 6th (7-45 p.m.).
The league fixtures for the new season are due out on July 13th.