Wednesday 13th August 2008
By Liam Chronnell
FC UNITED kick off their UniBond Premier League season chasing a fourth successive promotion.
The Gigg Lane tenants entertain Matlock Town on Saturday as the new campaign gets under way, followed by a trip to Cammell Laird three days later.
And manager Karl Marginson believes the breakaway club can continue their meteoric rise up the non-league pyramid – but admits the new-look Rebels face their most difficult challenge so far.
“This league will be tougher as the teams will have that extra bit of quality to add to the strength and physical size of sides in the first division, but I’m sure we’ll cope with whatever is thrown at us,” he said. “I’m happy with what we’ve got after a couple of players from last season left, and I honestly believe we’ll be up there going for promotion by the end of the season. In fact, we’ll cause a few surprises to people who aren’t expecting much of us.”
He added: “There are teams with more money than us in this league and we’ve had to deal with that this summer, but we have a selling point with our fans.”
If Marginson’s troops are to achieve success this term then they must do it without two of their most loyal lieutenants. Strike duo Rory Patterson and Stuart Rudd, who were released by the club, have both joined big-spending rivals Bradford Park Avenue, while FC have also lost midfielders Josh Howard and Nicky Platt to New Mills and Stalybridge respectively.
The FC boss has received a further blow with news that influential defender Rob Nugent has been ruled out until September after undergoing a knee operation.
But it is Patterson’s departure which will hit Marginson, pictured, hardest after the prolific hitman struck 41 goals last season.
The Rebels chief is now hoping his new strike partnership of former England Under-19s striker Kyle Wilson and ex-Altrincham forward Carlos Roca can fill the void.
“They will definitely excite the fans,” added Marginson, who is confident his younger players will benefit from last year’s experience.
“The young players we’ve kept hold of adapted well to some difficult situations last year and they will need to do that again this time. They’ve showed they’re capable of learning and they can only improve with the more experience they get.”
The Reds, who completed their pre-season campaign with a 3-0 victory against Nantwich Town last Friday, have high hopes for new arrivals Dave Neville, a former Oldham Athletic youngster who was playing for top Sunday league outfit Langley Celtic after drifting out of football, and Daisy Hill’s Danny Williams, who was NWCL Division Two player of the year last season.
Tunji Moses, the son of former United star Remi, has also joined from Salford but will be unavailable until December due to injury and suspension.