JOINT FIRST-TEAM manager Marcus Bignot has issued a dose of realism ahead of the start of the new National League North season – following a summer of financial belt-tightening at Guiseley.
The ramifications of a disastrous 2017-18 campaign – which saw the club make the ill-fated decision to go full-time in a season which ended in relegation – are still being felt at Nethermoor, with joint bosses Bignot and Russ O’Neill assigned with rebuilding the club within tight financial parameters following their appointment in mid-May.
With Guiseley having reverted to their previous status as a semi-professional club, the likelihood is that a season of consolidation is on the menu at Nethermoor, with a number of players having moved on and a host of part-time signings brought in as the Lions aim to rebuild.
Speaking ahead of the Lions’ opener at Boston United tomorrow, Bignot told the YEP: “We have got financial boundaries and it is important we stay within those and there are lessons learnt from last season that cannot be repeated. We have had to manage a liability carried over from last season as regards to moving players on.
“So there have been uncomfortable conversations had and honest conversations. It is finding that balance of doing that and also recruiting and being thorough with our recruitment.
“For us, first and foremost, we have got to address the liability and put out a competitive squad. We believe we can be competitive.”
Bignot’s quiet confidence that – given a fair wind – Guiseley can compete in a division that is getting stronger by the season is fortified by a positive pre-season and some shrewd-looking additions, with the joint-manager professing to being happy with their pre-season recruitment, all things considered.
New faces include ex-York City winger Kaine Felix, who impressed on trial, defenders Scott Garner, Andy Halls, Niall Heaton and Terry Kennedy, ex-Bradford City midfielder Louis Swain and Zimbabwean international Cliff Moyo.
Meanwhile, a number of players have left the club, including Ash Palmer, Dayle Southwell and John Rooney.
On the club’s summer recruitment ahead of the new campaign, Bignot said: “We are delighted and are ahead of what we would have probably imagined, given what we have had to deal with on and off the pitch. It is going to be a small squad, but we feel we have brought balance, options and competition.
“Most importantly, we feel we have brought some good characters and personalities into the environment.
“Like anything, we will need a bit of luck with a small squad and want to try and stay injury free as much as we can.
“With a little bit of success, we know what we are creating in that dressing room in terms of the mindset. We know what we can possibly achieve if we are willing to make sacrifices. We go into the season in quietly confident mood.”
Meanwhile, Harrogate Town captain Josh Falkingham says the key to National League success will be carrying the momentum from last season’s promotion exploits into 2018/19.
The Wetherby Road outfit kick off an historic first-ever campaign in the fifth tier of English football when they entertain Sutton United tomorrow.
“It’s important that we start fast, and if we can ride this wave of momentum that we’re on from last season then you just never know how well we can do,” the 27-year-old midfielder said. “We’re new to the division and don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves, but if you look at AFC Fylde, who are a team that play a similar way to ourselves, they went up the year before last, finished seventh and made the play-offs.
“The gaffer has kept the core of the squad that did so well last season and is used to winning games together and also added some really good lads with experience of the division we are going into.”
Also in the National League FC Halifax Town travel to Braintree Town tomorrow.