Jon McCarthy is keen to banish the memory of how last season ended and lead Chester FC ’s charge in the Vanarama National League this season.
Turn the clock back to the end of April and the Blues boss was subjected to a chorus of boos from some sections of the fanbase after the club rounded off a season that had promised much at one stage with a miserable run of defeats and a 2-0 loss at home to Boreham Wood, a result that saw them stave off relegation by just two points.
Losing key players to injuries and suspensions hampered McCarthy last season and he was forced to play players who were earning little more than expenses for many games in the closing months.
But things have changed for the better since then and, aided by the sale of Sam Hughes to Leicester City for a fee of £130,000, Chester have done impressive business in the transfer market with the addition of Ross Hannah, Kingsley James, Paul Turnbull, Harry White, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, John McCombe, Nyal Bell and Andy Halls.
McCarthy took a step back from the media glare over the summer, choosing instead to let his actions do the talking.
And with Chester starting their National League season away at Solihull Moors on August 5, the Blues boss is hoping that the fans can get back onside and play their part in what he hopes will be a successful campaign.
Said McCarthy: “I’ve just got my head down and done what I always do, and that’s work hard. I did that when you first put me in charge of the club and I did it all last season.
“It was a difficult last day of the season for me in front of family and people and I knew I had to get off and get my head down and try and prove some people wrong, which provides some motivation.
“We have done a lot. I hope people see what was going on and can understand some of the reasons for the end of last season. But we have acted quickly and made some brave decisions and got things done fast. We are not a football club that is drifting, it was a difficult season for us last year and we have set up an opportunity for us to compete again.
“I sense the positivity around the place. I can smell it. The fans have responded and people are starting to realise what our chief executive (Mark Maguire) has done. He needed a season to put this amazing football club on a level where it can compete as a supporters run club.”
McCarthy feels the club’s fine form during their run of one defeat in 17 last year shows he has what it takes to lead Chester to a brighter future and, with the benefit of a fully fit squad, is backing himself this time around and made light of his affinity with the club.
He said: “I feel like you have seen I can develop a team that can go on a superb run - one defeat in 17. I am capable of doing that if I have players fit. I am capable of doing it with one of the smallest squads and with one of the smallest budgets. I have been able to attract players to this football club that other people wanted.
“I can sell this football club. I love this football club and I understand every aspect of it. This football club is not more important to you than me. I may have been a Middlesbrough fan growing up and played all these other places, but the last three-and-a-half years I have lived and breathed this football club, every second. In this moment there is nothing that is more important to me. It means everything to me and nobody will work harder than me, so I need everybody onside. I need people to be realistic about our situation but we have done some good work and taken the next step over the summer.
“It will be tough again this season but understand that I will be going into every game believing I can win it. We are capable of winning every game, no matter of size or budget. I will get that into the players and I am desperate for the fans to buy into it.”