Manager Bobby Wilkinson insists he and his Bracknell Town players are in tip-top shape as they prepare for “a long season with many challenges ahead.”
The Robins go into the Pitching In Isthmian League South Central Division campaign as one of the favourites for the title after what Wilkinson said was a good pre-season.
“The lads have shown tremendous commitment and a few have had to make sacrifices, so they deserve a lot of credit,” he added.
“We had five games at home and five away and they went really, really well.
“I could have gone for 10 friendlies that were all winnable, but I wanted us to be tested. A couple of results did not go our way, but there were always positives to come out of them.
“There was some good team bonding with three days away by the sea at Bournemouth which we all enjoyed, so we are all ready for what is going to be a really tough season.”
Wilkinson is not one for blowing any trumpets during pre-season, explaining: “We prefer to keep our heads down, concentrate on ourselves and just go about our business in the best way we can.
“But I know a lot of people have been talking about us – and not always nice things at times.
“Because we are one of the most talked-about teams in the league, every team will be wanting to beat us. They will be looking to up their game when they play us.
“We are going to be up against some great sides and managers, but I like the pressure. I have been in the game for a long time so I know what to expect and can handle the pressure.
“When people are not talking about you, you may not be doing it right. There are a lot of things being said about Bracknell, but much of it isn’t the truth.”
The Robins manager continued: “We will be up against new teams and some great managers, so there will be plenty of strong challenges for us, but then I enjoy them and am looking forward to taking them on. I thrive on challenges.”
‘For the last three years, Hanwell have been a fantastic side with a very good management team’
Wilkinson, who has been on a healthy diet to lose weight during the summer, is fully aware that the first of those challenges will come this coming Saturday when they kick-off at Hanwell.
“For the last three years, Hanwell have been a fantastic side with a very good management team,” the manager continued. “They will be a tough challenge for us, we have been thrown into the lions’ den but hopefully we can upset them and come away with three points to start our season on a positive note.
“But I want to make it clear, that is it not just about the opening day. It is about planning for a long season, it’s not about how we start but how we finish. I am not interested in just one game.”
It is, of course, a period of major change for the Robins who have now left Larges Lane and its 3G pitch for the grass at Bottom Meadow in Sandhurst.
On the subject, Bobby had this to say: “I really like grass, I would like to see all football played on grass.
“I understand the reason for clubs having 3G pitches as it means games can be played all through the season, but I still favour grass although players do have to adapt to it during the winter.”
Wilkinson has made a number of shrewd signings, including strikers Dave Tarpey, who was a National League goal-record holder when at Maidenhead United, and James Clark from league rivals Marlow.
They are expected to form one of the strongest strike forces in the league, but they come with a warning from Wilkinson, who said: “They are under pressure to deliver but hopefully they will perform.”
Bracknell will be at full strength against Hanwell, with Wilkinson confirming that “every one of my squad is strong, healthy and fit to play, which I am very pleased about. We can’t wait to get started.”
The manager insisted that he could not allow any interview to finish without speaking about Kayne Steinborn-Busse.
He commented: The chairman is doing something very special. I came here 16 months ago. He made promises and he has stuck to his word.
“He is doing a great deal not just for this football club, but for the whole community.
“The club is becoming a powerful force from the youth sides all the way up to the first team and Kayne must take the credit. He is turning the club into a very professional outfit.
“Youngsters are very lucky to have these facilities. A few years ago they only had parks in which to play but now they are being given the chance to play on brand new pitches on which professional players usually play – they’re Wembley type pitches at a club with great facilities.
“The chairman deserves a lot of credit and I am delighted to be the manager here.
“There are people out there who are always looking to knock him back but what he is doing for kids and the local community is incredible.”
Wilkinson continued: “Kayne is delivering on every single thing he said he wanted to do. He is doing a great deal for kids in the community, what he is planning for them is incredible in my opinion.
“He has a lot of plans to improve Sandhurst Town – it is unbelievable what he is doing and planning for the local community.
“I am very proud to be involved with him and the football club.”