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Ebbsfleet United manager Danny Searle says National League South football in 2024/25 was never on his agenda

Manager Danny Searle led Ebbsfleet to safety last weekend - and then revealed he refused to plan for relegation.

Clubs at either end of the table would spend the past month planning for both scenarios.

Ebbsfleet keep Boreham Wood at arm’s length on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet keep Boreham Wood at arm’s length on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

But Searle was ultra-confident in his team’s ability and didn’t want any negative thinking for his staff as they battled to stay up in the National League.

They achieved it courtesy of a goalless draw at Boreham Wood on the final day, a result which relegated their hosts.

“I’m here next season, and long may that continue,” said Searle. “The planning has already started.

“We had a solid plan. You have to plan for both scenarios but the latter of the two, as in National League South football, was never really on the books.

“I banned discussions about it. You’re almost half-accepting that it could happen and I wasn’t having that. We weren’t accepting that and we were planning for National League football next season because that’s where we’re going to be.

“We started a while ago, looking at players. Pre-season is planned, I wanted it to be when the staff go at the end of next week for their summer breaks that we walk back in the building next season all done and ready to go.”

A handful of players are understood to have deals already in place for next season but the majority of the squad will be in discussions with the club during the coming weeks.

Ebbsfleet fans will be keen to see if Searle’s magical touch in turning the team’s fortunes around can be replicated in the transfer market.

But the manager’s initial battle will be to retain the services of those players he wants to keep.

“That’s going to be the challenge now,” admitted Searle. “A lot of these players have put themselves in the shop window but we believe we’ve created an environment where people want to play for me and play for us and the club.

“I will sit down with the players. I’m sure some of their salary expectations have gone up a little bit! But we have got a budget and we’ll do our best to stay with that.”

Searle revealed that he was told it was mission impossible when he took on the Ebbsfleet role after the club sacked Dennis Kutrieb at the end of January.

In a caretaker role for a fortnight, Searle quickly won over the fans and the playing squad and he’s proven to be an inspired choice by chief executive Damian Irvine.

“I had quite a few phone calls not necessarily not to take it but that I should be preparing for National League South,” reflected Searle.

“They said that Ebbsfleet were gone but when you look at that squad, the talent in there and the level of experience, I fancied it - I really did.

“When it came up and then it was mine permanently, I was ready to rumble as I genuinely believed from day one that we would stay up. I even said it to you then, that I wouldn’t have taken the caretaker role if I didn’t think we could stay up.”

A run of 22 points from his first 11 games appeared to have all-but-secured safety for the Fleet but sides like Woking, York and Maidenhead steered themselves away from the drop zone and it means two draws in the last four games were crucial to getting over the line.

“It was always difficult as there were a lot of performances when you looked at the games and thought we should be mid-table comfortably with the way we’re playing,” added Searle.

“But credit to the league and everyone around us as they kept winning as well. It made it a really difficult end to the season.

“We tried to focus just on ourselves, on what we were doing and we’d take care of our own business. And we’ve done that. We’ve not had to rely on anyone else, we’ve done everything ourselves.”

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