Daryl McMahon declared pre-season had passed his expectations but is equally pleased to see the back of it as his first fixture as a National League manager looms.
The Fleet boss thought his side was more fluent after the break against AFC Wimbledon but believed the first half suffered from an overkill of friendly combat.
“I said to the players at half-time, I’m manager and I don’t know about the supporters sitting in the seats, but I’m bored watching it,” McMahon told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “It lacked any sort of thrust and cutting edge and what we’re about. We weren’t on the front foot and I thought in the second half we were better at that.”
McMahon believed much of the first-half performance from both sides was typical of late pre-season. “It gets to the stage when you come back in pre-season and you’re excited to be back because you’ve had six weeks off,” he said. “Then you get to the end of pre-season and you are a little bit bored and looking forward to the start of the season when points matter and points count. But we’re getting there now and we’re looking forward to next week.”
The squad’s pre-season workout has pleased the manager, though, and he considers them primed and ready for the 2017/18 campaign. “We’ve had a good pre-season in terms of performances, individually and collectively. I said to the players before the game that we’ve probably had 21 players and two or three if I’m being honest were not at their maximum through pre-season. The rest of the players I think have been at the level you expect them at or a little bit above. So I’ll have difficult choices for next week.”
Against AFC Wimbledon, Jack Powell’s free-kick caught the eye and McMahon is hoping to see more of his set-piece ability in the months ahead. “It’s a talent he’s got and he was excellent all game,” the manager said. “In a very, very boring first half he was probably one of the only ones for us that stood out and got on the ball and looked to probe like we normally do.
“There’s a need for some fine-tuning, there always is at this stage but… let’s not forget we’ve tested ourselves against teams from higher levels in the majority and we haven’t looked out of place against any of them.”
Pushed on his players’ chances during the forthcoming campaign, McMahon prudently avoided making any surefire predictions. “We’re not going to put any mark down on where we want to be,” he said. “I think it’s important we stay in the division for a start, it took us four years to get back there and we can’t get carried away with ourselves. There’s lots of good teams in the division. You’ve seen it with Leyton Orient who have signed 12 or 13, and another good signing yesterday with Josh Coulson from Cambridge. Hartlepool will be decent, Tranmere obviously are outstanding favourites, Dover have been here for many years, there’s lots of teams that will fancy themselves this year and we’ll just try and compete.”