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Women's Team manager Luke Podmore delighted with "incredible" first year in charge

With the Reds sat top of the table at the Christmas break, unbeaten in the league and still strongly defending the two cups that they superbly won at the back end of last season, manager Luke Podmore can only be pleased with how his side have begun his second season at Broadhurst Park. United are firmly on track to achieve their end of season goals, admits Podmore.

"I think that we’re on target to achieve the goals set for the end of the season. We are exactly where we want to be in the league but we have to take that with a pinch of salt right now because we know we have that gap (at the top of the table) but I’m sure that it will soon disappear when the teams around us play their games in hand. For me the key thing now is that we don’t become complacent and continue to put in the work that has got us to where we are so far this season".

"So yeah it’s everything I wanted from the side to this point...of course me being me I’d want us to have that perfect record of played nine, won nine - but it is what it is and I hope that we can keep working and doing what we’re doing in the upcoming games after the break", Podmore added.

Despite losing just the one game in the entirety of the first four months of the season, Podmore believes that there is still areas that the Reds could improve on going into the second half of the season. "Obviously I’m really happy with where we are right now and with what we have done in the first few months. From my point of view, I’d like to see a bit more consistency perhaps and maybe the opportunity to get everybody together a few more times whether that be through a few more friendly fixtures or a couple more training sessions - I’d like to get a bit more consistency where I feel I have the same squad available to me each week. It feels every other week like something is going on, not necessarily that this has set us back but it would be certainly nice to have this consistency in the squad going forward. Overall though, I feel like we’re there, of course we can always improve but I feel like this squad is in a very good position at this moment in time"

Having played eight of the opening nine league fixtures home soil at Broadhurst Park, the Reds will be on the road more often than not as they challenge for the league title in the new year, with only one home fixture remaining out of nine left to play in the 2017/18 season. However Podmore does not believe that the significant number of road games will prove an obstacle in the side’s title challenge. "2018 could be a really good year for us, there’s no two ways about it. We’re in a really good position to be challenging for honours. I say it every week though, it’s not a given that we are going to win anything this year - we have to work hard for it. Being on the road will of course be a challenge but we have got points registered on the board now and plenty of confidence. We can go to teams and try to continue what we have been doing at Broadhurst. If I’m being honest I don’t really think it will have any effect [playing away from home] - we’re playing the same teams and we have got the same team. We don’t need to worry about anything else, we have to focus on our own preparations and there’ll be no issues as we have already proven so far this year".

Following the original appointment of Tom Greaves as Caretaker player manager of the first team in recent months, Podmore was given a spell working in and around the first team coaching staff for a number of weeks as the club attempted make a permanent appointment. With Greaves since taking the job full-time, Podmore has now shifted his focuses solely to the Women’s Team but insists that it was a great personal experience for himself as a coach.

"Being involved with the first team was a great experience for myself. I am hoping to pick that back up some time in the near future but commitment-wise at the moment, it’s not for me. Overall it was great to be a part of and have an impact on the first team. It gives you good confidence for your own coaching exploits and your own knowldege. I always said it from day one, Tommy [Greaves] was the man to take the team on. He’s an inspiring man, an inspiring player and wears his heart on his sleeve. He epitomises everything about this football club. His effort and the amount of hard work he puts into every single second he’s on that football pitch is second to none. If the players follow Tommy, which of course they will, I’m sure they will continue to pick up these great results. As a club they’ve had a tough December [with fixtures] but have picked up some great points and I’m sure in the new year, they will continue to make an impression on the league".

As for Podmore’s managerial career, the month of December marked his first year as manager of the Women’s Team. Without a doubt there has been plenty of highs in the first twelve months of the era but Podmore eludes to that night at Brookburn Road in April as his standout memory from a superb first year with the Reds. "It’s been just over twelve months for me now at FC United, it’s felt like five or six years! There’s been a lot of highs but like you say a few lows - with football that’s what you get, it’s part of the game. For me the standout memory is winning the Manchester FA Women’s Cup, the first piece of silverware for me as manager. It was a cup that had evaded the team for some time now and so that was a really big moment in my tenure at FC".

"Obviously that was then backed up by the Argyle Cup final but the first one was just a really significant one for me. To get that piece of silverware in the cabinet was great and here’s hoping that we can keep it for some time now. We want to make sure that we stamp our authority on that cup, it’s the first year we had it and I certainly don’t want it to go anywhere", Podmore added.

Looking in detail at Podmore’s first year in charge, the Reds have won 26 of their 30 competitive games, drawing two and losing just two. The thirty games have seen the Reds score a huge total of 177 goals, conceding only 19. Podmore believes that it speaks volumes of the amount of work that is put in from both the players and staff, week in, week out. "Looking back at those numbers, it’s incredible really - if someone said that this would be your record after the first year in charge I would have been gobsmacked. We’ve gone in to win every single one of those games and to win 26 of them is just fantastic. We’re unbeaten at home in the league across the year and that’s been a great part of our success. The record says a lot about the team and the tireless hours of work that we’ve put in on the training ground and into planning. We’re continuing to mould this group into what we want it to be and I don’t think that we are that far off now. But no I’m absolutely delighted, I base my game on attacking football and to score 177 goals over 30 games is just ridiculous. I think that’s just under six goals a game on average so I’m delighted with it, delighted with the players we’ve brought in and delighted the way they’ve embraced it - I can’t wait for more really!"

With 2017 going down as one for the good books, all focus is now on starting the new year as the Reds’ left off. Podmore insists that the first game back at Crewe Alexandra LFC DS will be important as any in order to producing a similar year to the previous one, over the coming months. "It will be key to brush those cobwebs off, back in on the 3rd [January] and then we’ve got that game on the 7th against Crewe. So yeah it’s really important that we get a decent session in on that Wednesday, possibly have a friendly on the Thursday to get ourselves ready for that game on the Sunday. I know that the team will be more motivated than ever to bring the new year in with a win, I’ve made my targets and expectations out before the break so they know what’s expected when they come back. It’d really key that we get a good positive result in that first game back going into that West Didsbury & Chorlton game the week after. From then on it’s counting down the games as they come, one by one and playing each like a cup final and leaving everything on the pitch. If we do that against any other team in this league there’s only going to be one outcome and that will be a win for ourselves".

You can see if Luke Podmore and his FC United side can get 2018 kick-started with a win as they travel to Crewe Alexandra LFC on Sunday 7th January - 3pm KO at the Cumberland Arena (CW1 2BD)!

By Mikey Partington

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First Posted ~ 18:59 Thu 28 Dec 2017
News ID ~ 7734
Last Updated ~ 19:03 Thu 28 Dec 2017