09:00AM, Saturday 04 August 2018
Neil Baker has faith in his squad and the management skills of Jon Underwood and himself as Slough Town embark on their highly-anticipated campaign in National League South.
Following promotion from the Southern League at the end of last season, joint managers Baker and Underwood have rewarded their players by keeping most of the squad together, and that decision will be tested first at home to Hampton & Richmond tomorrow (Saturday), before making a trip to Chippenham Town on Tuesday.
Baker admitted there might be some nerves around the dressing room ahead of the opener, but that the squad was in a good place.
“The start of a season always brings its own excitement, but more so this season now that we are in the National League South – a level at which both Jon and I have been aiming at reaching for many years,” he said.
“We are under no illusions though. We know that the expectations are reset this season.
“We have faith in the lads we have, and we will take every challenge head on.
“The first match is always nervy and edgy for the players because they don’t want to make a mistake.”
He added: “I feel good. Jon and I have confidence in what we do. We believe we are good managers and have delivered in the past.
“We are confident we can identify and rectify any issues which may occur.
“But there are always ups and downs in management.
“I know we can score goals, which always gives you a chance and, so far, we have looked more solid at the back.”
Baker believes the squad are in a strong state of mind ahead of the test against Hampton and, more importantly, have suffered no major injuries.
“Pre-season was a positive experience,” he said.
“I always judge how successful pre-season has been by the number and severity of injuries.
“We have had players injure cruciate ligaments in the last two seasons, but this time around we have one minor injury. I’m pleased with that. It’s a big positive.
“We have also maintained that winning mentality which is important.”
Assessing the Rebels’ first opponents, Baker added: “Hampton are a much changed side, but they are a strong outfit which has reached the play-offs for the past two years.
“Chippenham is a difficult away match on Tuesday.
“They have brought in good players and are, by all accounts, going for it.
“They established themselves in the division last year after winning promotion the year before.
“If we could get four points from our first two matches, I’d be over the moon.”
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