MATTY McNeil believes his wealth of experience will help Chester FC make a big impression on the Evo-Stik Premier Division next season.
The 34-year-old Mancunian was manager Neil Young’s sixth signing of the close season, joining the newly-promoted Blues from Southport at the start of the month.
Now the imposing McNeil, who can play either as a striker or central defender, is aiming to use his know-how in both the Football League and non-league to guide Chester to glory.
“The move to Chester really suits me and I think my experience can really bring something to the table this season,” said McNeil, who counts Runcorn, Hyde United, Macclesfield Town and Stockport County among his former clubs.
“I had interest from a few other clubs before settling on Chester and had some offers to stay in the Blue Square Premier and some to drop down into the Blue Square North.
“Gary Jones (Chester’s assistant manager) was on a coaching course with me and he said that the club were interested, so I came down and had a look around, which I did with all the clubs that were interested in signing me.
“The ambition to succeed and what Gary and Neil are trying to achieve at Chester convinced me that it was the right choice.”
The 6ft 5ins striker endured a miserable campaign at Southport who finished in the relegation zone. The subsequent demise of Rushden earned the Sandgrounders a relegation reprieve over the weekend, but McNeil is already focusing on the challenge ahead with his new club.
“Last year wasn’t great for me. I didn’t enjoy it and found it really frustrating,” said McNeil, who works for Royal Mail.
“I’m used to playing as a target man but last year the play was so direct that it wasn’t working, I was just being cut out of the game.
“Strikers are judged on goals and I didn’t score many last year but, in truth, there were only three or four occasions where I really should have hit the target and missed.
“I can play up front and use my strength and do a job when I’m needed but I also like playing in defence.
“I enjoy stopping people at the other end of the pitch and one of the main selling points of the club was that Neil and Gary said there would be the opportunity to play in both positions this season.”
McNeil, a 2008 League Two play-off winner at Wembley with Stockport, is confident that Young’s new-look side will be able to challenge for honours having made the step up from the Evo-Stik First Division North as champions last season.
“There aren’t too many teams who’ll fancy facing Chester,” he said. “We look to have a strong squad and I’m looking forward to getting started and playing in front of a great fan base.”