MANAGER Tim Flowers says that his Solihull Moors side are capable of bettering their feats from last season, as the new campaign gets underway away to Harrogate Town this Saturday (3pm).
The Moors are faced with the task of matching a season in which they finished second in the National League, reached the second round of the FA Cup and quarter-finals of the FA Trophy.
But with a large-scale overhaul at the SportNation.bet Stadium, including a complete redevelopment of the main stand, along with the signings of the National League top scorer Paul McCallum, former Birmingham City player Mitch Hancox and defender Callum Howe, the improvements are clear for all to see.
Flowers, on the back of a first full campaign in management that will have surprised even the most ardent Solihull fan, says that his approach to directing last season’s surprise package will not change, despite many now viewing his side as a force to be reckoned with.
“I’ll say to my lads, we stay humble, we stick to our principles, we stick to what we preach on a daily basis, but we’re not going to divert too much from it,” he said.
“We’ve built on a bedrock of firm foundations, we had the fourth-best goals against record in the league, and we can score goals, so I think if we can keep ourselves as mean as we were last year then we can be in with a shout.
“Everyone will want to beat us, but we want to beat everyone else – so bring it on.”
For a man who was involved in the pressure cauldron of the 1994/95 Premier League title run-in during his playing days, the Moors manager is clearly not losing sleep over his latest challenge, and is confident of defying the odds once more in 2019/20.
But despite his cause for optimism, Flowers is the first to recognise just how quickly things have progressed in the previous 12 months at the club, and says that preparations for the new campaign have been markedly improved by the new approach and facilities available to him.
“We’ve got a full-time fitness coach in Ian Hutton, so we’ve had a lot more scientific help and a lot more feedback,” he said.
“We know all the outputs, what they’re doing, their work rate, as soon as that final whistle blew against Fylde we’ve been organised and ready to go.
“In terms of pre-season, our games have been good, we’ve built up slowly in terms of standard of opposition, everyone’s got a fair run out, so I think it’s been much better.
“We’ve got a training ground now, whereas we were training behind the stadium last year and it was a shambles – the pitch was a disgrace.
“We did our running in the park behind it in Elmdon, so we’ve had none of that this year, we’ve been able to train properly so that’s helped as well.”
Flowers is under no illusions as to how other teams will approach his side this season, but insists that the Moors will remain a tough nut to crack due to the personalities present in his squad.
“Just as important as having good players is having good people, I’ve got lads who I can trust, who played the majority of last season and nearly got over the line,” said Flowers.
“But now it’s a blank sheet of paper, a lot of people will have had their eyes opened by us last year and won’t be surprised by us, so in all I think it’s going to be a more difficult season.”
Assessing a pre-season in which the Moors went unbeaten, culminating with draws against League One opponents in Burton Albion and Oxford United, the 52-year-old says his side are in perfect shape to kick-off their season.
“We’ve been back since late June, and trained more or less ever since,” said Flowers.
“I think we’re fit and ready, the lads have worked extremely hard, and all will be revealed at quarter to five on Saturday where we’re at.
“Then the marathon begins, 46 games in the hardest division to get out of in English football.”