Defender Gary Liddle notched up 49 appearances in all competitions last season and capped off an extremely impressive second half of the campaign with a man-of-the-match performance in the final fixture of the season against Newport County AFC.
Now on 565 career appearances overall, he’s looking forward to establishing himself as a first team regular under a new manager when next season comes along.
“The thing with football is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a new manager or someone who has been in charge for a while, every player in the squad always starts with a clean slate,” he said. “No matter how old you are or how many games you’ve played, everyone has to show the coaching staff that they’re ready to go again. There will be players in the changing room who hardly played under Keith [Curle] and they’ll be determined to put that right.
“I’ve been one of the lucky ones who has played a lot of football, but it could quite easily swing round next season. Everyone is in the same boat, and that’s a good thing because it keeps you on your toes. You know you have to be ready to impress.
“It’ll be a tough pre-season and it’ll be different to what we’ve been used to. It’s exciting, the fans will be looking forward to seeing new players and new ideas coming across from the new manager, and hopefully we’ll give it another good go next season.”
Speaking more about the manager’s position, he told us: “All you can do is wait and see who comes in. You see the odds on various different sites and you seem to see the same old names cropping up. Whoever it is, I’m sure they’ll come in and do a good job.
“We’ll be ready to work for him because we’re here to get success for ourselves and our football club. Like I say, he’ll have his own ideas and it’s up to us to implement that whenever we go out onto the pitch.”
And on a frustrating run of draws which ultimately kept the Blues away from the play-off places, he commented: “Once it was definite that we couldn’t get into the play-offs it’s just natural that you started to look at the games where we should have picked up points.
“Both games against Wycombe stand out, but there are others as well. I think every team will be able to do that in terms of games where they could have nicked a point, or turned one point into three, and that’s why you find that the league table tends to be a fair reflection of your season.
“We would have liked to have been more consistent in the early part of the season, but it wasn’t to be, which meant we gave ourselves too many points to make up to get into the play-offs. It was a positive end to the season, with one defeat in 14 games, but that was where we needed the victories rather than the draws.”
“It’s been a difficult season for the fans because they obviously would have liked to see us higher in the table, which we haven’t been able to do for them,” he commented. “It hasn’t been through the want of trying. There’s been a lot of effort put into this season on the playing and managerial side.
“There’s obviously going to be a lot of change over the summer on the playing side as well, and that’s always interesting to watch. I tend to follow it on the website and on social media and then it’s down to making sure the new players feel welcome when we get back together at the end of June.”
Having been brought in by the outgoing manager 18 months ago, he said: “I can’t speak highly enough of the manager. I was at Notts County when he left, he came into the changing room and said if any of the players wanted to say goodbye he would make himself available.
“The squad was lined up outside his office and he was probably there for about three hours. It was the same feeling here because he’s well-liked by all of the lads. I get on with him so it was tough to see him go, but I’ve got no doubt he’ll go on to manage another football club and do a great job.”
“This is part and parcel of football and it’s all about the new manager now,” he added. “We’ll all be right behind him from day one and hopefully we’ll be going one step further under him next season.”
And on his own form this year, he told us: “I’ve been pleased with my performances overall this season. I’ve made almost 50 appearances again, which I’ve become used to.
“I turn 32 in the summer but I don’t plan to slow down in terms of appearances. As long as I’m fit and available I’ll be hoping to keep racking them up and enjoying my football.
“At the moment it’s about enjoying a few weeks off with the family in the sun but gone are the days where you could just spend the summer eating and drinking. I’m looking forward to coming back and putting in some graft and doing it all again for what will hopefully be an exciting season.”
Click the play button on the picture at the top of the article to watch some clips of Gary Liddle in action this season.
Click HERE to watch an interview with Gary Liddle on iFollow United now.