EVOLUTION rather than revolution is the watchword for Gary Whild as he heads into his first full season as manager of Kidderminster Harriers, writes Peter McKinney.
Whild has been working hard during the summer to put his own stamp at Aggborough since being handed the role permanently.
Just one defeat in 13 games at the end of the 2013-14 campaign brought much-needed stability after the departure of Steve Burr and Andy Thorne in quick succession but Whild is keen to build on that solid platform.
Whild, who was Burr’s assistant at Kidderminster for three-and-a-half years, drafted in Mark Creighton as his assistant after Tim Flowers joined Nottingham Forest.
Influential defender Josh Gowling has also been handed his first coaching role.
He said: “As a manager you are responsible for a lot more in terms of everything that goes on compared to being an assistant.
“It’s been different, but it has been nice to put a stamp on different things in pre-season.
“The lads have worked extremely hard but I think with pre-season you probably only know how good it has been a month into the season.
“Since Mark and Josh took on their new roles we try and have regular chats and I think those two lads have been excellent.”
“I think they’ve found it different and if I am being honest more difficult than they thought.
“It’s good to be working with two lads who are enthusiastic and want to get involved in the coaching side of the game, but there is probably a little more to it than they first thought. Hopefully I can help them on that side of it.”
During a testing pre-season programme, the manager has experimented with a number of formations and line-ups in preparations for Saturday’s Vanarama Conference opener at Lincoln City (3pm ko).
Once again, a push for promotion to the Football League is the main aim.
He said: “I’ve been fortunate that my time at Harriers has been successful and while we haven’t got promoted, we’ve been up there and challenging and we want to be doing the same this year.
“The style of football you want is a winning one and if you are getting results players are confident and you tend to see a lot more football being played.
“It is important to say that we haven’t been able to get promoted, although we’ve been close on several occasions, so maybe we have to look at different ways of setting up or different ways of playing.”
The spine of the squad which nearly won the league during the 2012-13 season remains, although it has evolved.
Lee Vaughan and Mickey Demetriou have moved to Cheltenham and Shrewsbury respectively and Anthony Malbon had his contract cancelled by mutual consent.
But Whild has brought in proven Conference Premier hitmen Reece Styche and Craig Reid, accomplished right-back Jared Hodgkiss as well as youngsters Ahmed Obeng, Jake Green and Reece Hales.
The manager added: “There are six or eight teams looking at getting promoted and we should be looking at going up because of the nucleus of the squad.
“It is always difficult for relegated teams so it will be hard for Torquay and Bristol Rovers but Grimsby, Forest Green, Gateshead are all strong clubs.
“The likes of Braintree and Alfreton are hard to be beat and I don’t see that being any different this season.”
He added: “There are a lot of clubs who have thrown a lot of money at winning promotion and got nowhere.
“I don’t think our budget compares to a lot of our rivals. You’ve got three or four paying double what we are and on top of that you’ve got five or six clubs who are definitely paying more than us.”