Hollands & Blair manager Scott Porter wants his team to be the fittest in the league next year.
Porter turned the form around during his 21 league games in charge, lifting them from 17th to ninth at the end of the Southern Counties East league season. Getting his squad in top condition will be key to challenging for higher places in 2022/23.
He said: “It surprised me when I came in, to see the players we did have, a lot of them were my sort of players. I got rid of a few and brought others in who I knew and could trust, and it gave us a good blend.
“We just fell short in the [Kent Senior Trophy] final and finished top nine. We had a lot of injuries, suspensions, the fitness did show in the cup final and now we start afresh.
“To be successful in this league you need to be fit and we weren’t fit last season. We couldn’t turn it around regarding the fitness with the time we had, that is our main thing to work on, especially the way I play, the way I set them up. We need to be the fittest team in the league, simple as that.
“We did it at Whitstable, it took us a couple of years. The players know they have to work hard, out of pre-season they need to do it, because it is going to be tough when they come back.
“We come in at the end of June, two sessions in the week, they know they will be worked hard. I said to them, ‘enjoy your break, of course, but you have to look after yourself as well’.”
Porter targeted a top-10 finish for the season and a cup final - and achieved both. He is looking to push on and is hoping to add a few more players to the group. He believes he has the basis to be successful, with a defender, midfielder and striker on the wishlist this summer.
He said: “We have a base to move forward to next season. To start out in 17th, it is a massive return for what we have done, we just need to build on it for next season which we are planning to do already.
“We have had success but the hard work starts now. We have come in and had a look how the club was run, got rid of a few, brought a few in and we now need to take it to the next step.
“There is no reason to get rid of anyone because of the platform we finished with. We need to be fitter, we need to have better quality, we need two or three, we are working on it and we will see who becomes available.”
Blair are planning their pre-season fixtures away from Star Meadow and have also arranged a facility to train on while their grass pitch is dug up and 3G installed.
Few teams enjoyed a visit to Blair on a pitch that did teams no favours and Porter confessed: “We didn’t like it either! The pitch was that poor.
“Every other week we are playing on a 3G already. It is going to benefit teams coming to us but it is also going to improve us and the way we want to be.”
The 2022/23 Southern Counties East League season starts on July 30.