Hyde United manager Dave McGurk wants his players to stand up and be counted this year - and won’t use financial restraints as an excuse for the team’s performance.
The 38-year-old took charge of The Tigers in May 2019 and has seen all his work to date count for nothing, thanks to the pandemic wiping out non-league football for two years running.
McGurk’s side were 10th in the Northern Premier League Premier Division table before the 2019-20 season was expunged.
He said: “The aim for this season is improvement. I want to finish higher than the season before last. I’ve had enough now of playing the underdog, because we don’t have a lot of money to spend - but we’re not going down that route this year. I trust in my players and coaching staff. There will be a recycling of players, because there’s a lot on non-contract terms. I want to do well in all competitions, finish in the top half and see where that takes us.”
Having originally signed up 18 players from last season, McGurk has already released two players and seen his squad hit by injuries at this early stage.
These developments have forced him to change his plans to only sign a couple of extra players to add to those carried over from last year. Midfielder Tony Donaldson has joined from Ramsbottom United, while former Matlock Town striker Luke Hinsley has also been added to the squad.
“I’ve told some of them that they’re effectively still on trial, we didn’t see enough of them last year. I’ve given them the opportunity to show me what they can do. I’ve left a couple go because they haven’t shown me enough, and there may be more that go. I’ve got to be ruthless with my decisions and do what’s best for the football club. We’re bringing more in, so it’s up to the players in the dressing room to keep their shirts if they can.
“I originally only wanted to bring 2 or 3 in and we’ve done that, but with the injuries it’s apparent we need more depth in the squad. I’m certain that with the current injuries, I wouldn’t be comfortable starting the season with where we’re at. If we were to get 3 or 4 more injuries before the season starts, I haven’t done my work and we’ll be left short,” he said.
McGurk, who played over 400 times in his own career, has retained the same backbone to his Hyde side for the majority of his tenure. Captain Tom Pratt, left back Kyle Brownhill and centre back Jordan Fagbola all joined the club before their boss, and he has kept faith with his own signings including Liam Tongue, Harry Benns and Bradley Roscoe.
“I’m really happy with the core of the squad and what the first team will be. I’m also happy with how we picked up from last season - even though it was a short one, I think the seeds have been planted with some players. It was very difficult to get any sort of momentum last year because you knew at some point the season would be cut off
We’re always looking to improve, so we’re going to go at teams a bit more. I’m unhappy with the goals we’ve given away in preseason, but I’m glad we’re doing it now because we can show players why they’re giving them away.” he said.
The Northern Premier League Premier Division side begin their season at home to Atherton Collieries on August 14.