Mark Cooper. Photo: Paul Smithson.

‘We’ll be competitive’ says Windsor boss Mark Cooper

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The Royalists boss has been speaking ahead of the new season
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Mark Cooper. Photo: Paul Smithson.

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“We’ll be competitive” was the message from Windsor boss Mark Cooper as East Berkshire side prepared to embark on another FA Cup journey and return to the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division.

Cooper’s side have had an up and down pre season but managed an eye-catching win against Binfield and Cooper has brought in the experienced James Pritchard to his management team as well as bringing back striker Excellence Muhemba.

The Royalists boss took time-out this week to chat to Football in Berkshire, here’s everything he said to us:

Pre season has been a mixture for us, a challenge with Covid, injuries and people making the most of family time and going away with restrictions starting to lift. I’ve never found them that enjoyable and I’ll be glad to see the back of this one, I am looking forward to the FA Cup on Sunday and it being a thing of the past!

It means it’s been a mix of good and bad for us but I’m pleased with the displays when we’ve had the majority of what I’d consider our first team available – like the result against Binfield.

There have been occasions though where we’ve had a very thin squad and had to rely on triallists and push young players where perhaps I’d have liked it to be a bit more experienced.

Squad wise we’ve had three or four leave and brought six or seven in. We’ve worked hard to get players in who’ll fit the squad and the style of play we’re working on.

Once we are able to get the side out I want we’ll be good, but it’s been hard work!

James Pritchard. Photo: Buckinghamshire Examiner.

James Pritchard coming in will add something. He’s been a very very good manager, he knows other players and will definitely be an asset for us this season.

Against Wallingford that you were at, they looked good but I was happy at 1-0 at half-time. In the second half I wanted to look at players, triallists and others and sometimes that kind of defeat can happen.

I want to win every game but that can’t be the driver in pre-season. You’ve got to give triallists and young players a chance to impress because maybe we’ll pick someone up who can make a difference.

Against Beaconsfield Town that was tough. I had 13 first team unavailable through Covid and injuries. We almost called it off but chatted to Beaconsfield who said they were light as well, but they turned up with 19 players and that was that!

Binfield of course was the standout result, we were able to put a strong side out for that one. By the time the weekend comes and the Tuffley game we’ll be ready.

It’s not like we know that much about Tuffley, we didn’t get to play them I think the last two years, or its been two years so they’ll be a different prospect, but I am glad it’s now at Windsor. We’ve not watched them, if they’ve sent anyone to watch us you’d not know who was playing!

As far as the new league season goes in the Combined Counties, we’re aware of some of the teams, I don’t think fans will need to look to much further than Ascot United as favourites.

For us and as far as targets go, I am always careful with targets. We’re coming at it in a different way, no budget – teams do seem to have budgets despite everything and can attract players we can’t, so we’ll be as good as we can be, we’ll be competitive.

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