AFTER three months of waiting, the big kick-off is finally upon us and Thame United manager Mark West admitted his players “just cannot wait to get started”.
He has sent them the challenge of securing a top 10 finish come the end of the season but he knows it will be no easy task.
West said: “It is quite a tough one because everybody wants to finish in the top half but I think if we can do that I will be happy and anything more will be a bonus.
“We have a good bunch of young lads and are a good footballing side who on our day are capable of beating anybody, but then we are also capable of losing to anybody as well.”
United have now got a year’s experience in the Hellanic League behind them and West believes this will give his team an added strength this season.
He said: “We are lucky because we have kept the majority of last season’s team and they have an understanding of the way we want them to play. They are a lot better now and have come a long way in the 40 or 50 games from last season. I have been well pleased with all the young players we have kept from last year and I am sure anybody coming down to watch us will see good football.”
West has spent the past three months bringing in extra players to improve his squad and has added the likes of his son Dan and Jon Steadman.
But he is still only left with a team of 15 or 16 players so is wary of a repeat of last season, where it was sometimes a struggle to field a team.
He said: “With a club like this it is hard to have a big team so if we finish in the top 10 it will be a good result.
“I have got a couple of managers I can call upon to get some players if I really need them but I will see how we go.
“I don’t want to be calling them up if I don’t need to, I would rather use the reserves but if it comes to it we have a couple of teams who will lend a hand.”
United finished off their pre-season campaign with a disappointing 5-0 defeat to a full strength Hayes and Yeading side on Tuesday but West believes it was a good lesson for his side.
“They sent a full team out and we lost 5-0 but the lads learnt a lot from it, they were a very good side, moved the ball really well and are four or five leagues above us.
“But we competed really well and it will help us come the start of the season.”
Prior to the Hayes game, Thame battled to a well deserved 1-1 draw against Slough Town, who are play-off contenders in the league above.
Thame begin their season with a home match against Highworth Town at 3pm on Saturday before entertaining Wokingham and Emmbrook on Tuesday night.