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Fish sets sights on top half finish
Wednesday 6th December 2017 @ 13:00 by Mark Phillip
Football Oldham Sports

David Fish say’s he’ll be disappointed if Chadderton don’t finish in the top half of the North West Counties First Division this season.

The former Stalybridge Celtic goalkeeper – who was part of the 2001 treble winning squad – took charge of Chadderton following Mark Howard’s departure in October.

Fish inherited a side that had won just two of their opening ten league fixtures, losing three and drawing the rest.

Alongside assistant manager Lee Ashworth, Fish has done his best to instil a winning mentality into his youthful players.

Results have so far been indifferent, although Fish is aware that it will take time to lay the foundations for a brighter future. Speaking to Reporter Sport about his appointment in October, Fish said he was pleasantly surprised and now wants to repay the faith. “I’ve been coaching for a few years in Rochdale, and I suppose I had ambitions to get back into the semi-professional game, which I played in until 2007, mainly at Curzon Ashton and a few other clubs as well” said Fish.

“I got a call from the chairman – someone gave him my number and he asked me if I’d like to meet him for a conversation, which I agreed to on the following Thursday. I met the committee for an informal interview, which obviously went well, and I then got a call the following week to tell me that I’d been appointed.

“I’d kind of prepared to take charge of a team I had been running in Rochdale. I’d done the pre-season and started the season with them, but then the call came out of the blue and it was too good an opportunity to turn down. It’s a good level of football; it’s a big step up form where I was; and it’s a club with some real ambition.”

Fish endured a baptism of fire during his first game in charge of the club.

Although his side were beaten 3-1 at St Helens Town, the former Hyde and Curzon Ashton player was just relieved to have  assembled a team for the clash. He said: “My first thoughts were: ‘Will I have a team on Saturday?’

“Having been around the non-league game for a long time, I know that managers often take players with them and have certain relationships with players, but I wasn’t certain that I’d even get a team out for my first game.

“What became apparent form the first game away at St Helens, was the fact that it’s a very young side. They had lots of footballing ability, but perhaps a lack of physicality, nous and wisdom that you need at county level.”

While Fish appreciates the technical ability of his players, he also realises that football is often won through sheer grit and determination. These two attributes, combined with an increase in fitness levels, is something he’s working on. “In terms of footballing ability, I’ve been very impressed. There are lots of technically good footballers, and that comes from our EDS team. Simon Brown, who’s in charge of that, has done a great job to bring through technically good footballers. A couple of them have stepped up and done well in the first team.

“The problem we have is tactical awareness, so it’s knowing when and where to play. We’ll often get caught out playing in the wrong areas, and it’s just knowing that sometimes you need to spend five minutes turning a team and pressing them. It’s not the prettiest of football, but it’s functional. We need to learn that quickly.

“The other thing is fitness. I believe we’re not fit enough, and that has shown in a couple of games. Now that I’m in charge of the club, one of the biggest things I’ve done is to introduce a second night of training, so that we can work on fitness and shape”.

In a bid to start the new year with fresh impetus, Fish has targeted six points over the festive period.

He believes that claiming these points will enhance his prospects of finishing in the top half come May. He said: “You need to be realistic about what you can achieve. There’s some nice ideas you can have about shape and the way in which you want to play, but you also need to think sensibly about how you’re going to implement that when you’ve only got the players for three and a half hours per week.

“We’ve got three games before Christmas, and I would expect us take at least six points, which in such a tight league could move us up three or four places.

“I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get top half. I’m not in football to make up the numbers. I want to instil a winning mentality and I’m working hard to bring players in, who’ve got a bit more experience and can help out the younger lads, to deliver that. I think once we get that – and I think we are starting to get a more settled side – we can kick on”.