Formartine United boss Paul Lawson believes his side must improve if they are to challenge at the top of the Highland League next season.
After second and fourth-place finishes in Lawson’s first two seasons in charge, the North Lodge Park men finished sixth in the 2019-20 campaign.
Last season was cut short due to the pandemic, meaning no team played more than three matches.
The Pitmedden men kick off the 2021-22 campaign against Fraserburgh at Bellslea on Saturday July 24 and Lawson will be hoping for a flying start against one of the top teams in the divison.
While United have tasted success multiple times in cup competitions since Lawson took charge in September 2017, the manager wants to make a better fist of things in the league this season.
“Every year we’re quoted as being challengers. I think this year’s no different,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to it as, like for everyone else, last year wasn’t great.
“But we’re hoping we’re slowly getting back to some sort of normality and the football season coming round is a bonus for all of us involved, so we’re excited to get going.
“We have a fair bit of improving to do on the 2019-20 season, but I believe we can be up there challenging.
“It’s going to be difficult, we know that. But it’s down to myself and the coaching staff and players to show what we can do and be up there.”
‘Youngsters need to step up’
It has been a summer of change so far at North Lodge Park, with a clutch of experienced players departing the club.
Goalkeeper Kevin Main and defender Craig McKeown as well as strikers Conor Gethins and Garry Wood have all left, but Lawson insists that just means younger players will get the chance to shine.
He said: “Some of the younger players need to step up and I’m sure they will.
“We’ve got trust in them, hence why we allowed a couple of the older guys move on.
“That’s football – you have to make changes. Players get older and move on and it becomes time for others to show they can replace them.”
We can confirm a deal has been concluded today for the transfer of player Ryan Spink to Formartine United FC, At the end of the season Ryan advised the club that he wanted to move on
As part of the above deal we can confirm that we have signed Luke Emmett from Formartine United pic.twitter.com/6ZMJhTioWO
— Keith Football Club (@KeithFC) May 19, 2021
To that end, 23-year-old defender Ryan Spink has joined from fellow Highland League side Keith to bolster the United ranks, with Luke Emmett going in the opposite direction.
Lawson, however, is reticent to dip into the transfer market more unless he is certain it’s for a player who will enhance the side.
He added: “We’re not actively looking in the transfer market, but if someone becomes available who we feel can improve us as a team, we’ll certainly look at it.
“But there’s no point in taking people in just for the sake of taking people in. We want to make sure that if someone’s coming in they can improve the squad.”
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