Jon McCarthy targets Football League return after signing new Chester FC deal


Charlie Croasdale

JON MCCARTHY has vowed to do everything in his power to help Chester secure a return to the Football League.

The Blues’ manager has penned a two-year contract extension with the club until May 2019, and speaking at yesterday’s press conference alongside chief executive  Mark Maguire, McCarthy explained he believes Chester have a ‘clear vision’ to secure promotion from the National League.

“It’s been a really easy decision for me, I recognise the opportunity I have at Chester,” said McCarthy, who revealed centre-half Sam Hughes will travel down with the squad ahead of their clash with Dover Athletic tomorrow (3pm), with Ross Killock also set to be included for the first time since late October.

“I now feel confident in doing the job, not complacent, but I’ve learned so much and I’d love to start the season again knowing what I know now.

“I had in my head to be finishing mid-table and reach our highest points target, and firstly to get 50 points, and I’m not there yet. I know we’ve got a tough run of games and I won’t get carried away with that.

“I’m delighted with this opportunity but I see the other side too. 

“On a consistent basis I’m here everyday and there’s a big difference about the place now.

“The club has evolved and everyone on the operational club board, the CFU board, everyone who comes in and volunteers, what you’ve achieved is amazing. Now it’s evolved and appointing Mark has been key, that knowledge and willingness all comes together.

“There’s a real plan here, there’s an end line, and that is league football again for this club and the fact I can see that path there, that’s how things happen in football.

“You have to be able to see the end of your vision to achieve it. There’s a lot of steps in between to get there but I know my part, I know Mark’s part, and we’ll work hard to make it happen.”

Asked if part-time Chester had managed to bridge the gap to full-time teams in the division with bigger budgets, McCarthy replied: “I think we’ve done that this season. We were a relegation team at the beginning of the season, there’s a bit of work to do still, we’ve got a tough run of fixtures coming up, but I do feel we’re getting there.

“We want to sell ourselves as a recognised top-half team, so every time we beat one of those teams above us, we get closer.

“We want to be mid-table and look to push further up, like a Gateshead or Macclesfield, that’s our next target, can we go on and do that this year? 

“With that brings more recognition, I see the respect we get from other teams and opposition managers. I know we’ve changed that emphasis.

“They see the crowds we have and that, for me, is the big thing we have over everybody else. We’re a top six team based on our support, and that’s a big plus and as a club we have to use that.

“We’ll need some more advice and we need more investment, but the supporters will always run this football club and have control. 

“So we need to find a way of doing that and if we can keep getting good results on a Saturday, that helps drive that and brings me better players.”

McCarthy was keen to inform his players of his new deal before it was unveiled to the public, and sent his staff and players a group text prior to the press conference.

The 46-year-old, who was appointed Steve Burr’s permanent successor in the summer, believes keeping things simple on the pitch has enabled his current squad to shine, as they look to build on their current ninth-place at the Crabble Ground tomorrow.

“I knew there was a lot of potential with this group of players, he added. 

“It’s quite simple the stuff I’m doing, maybe simplicity is the genius bit because it’s quite simple what I do.

“I give them respect and a simple system but with a lot of detail built into it. It’s hard work but I will work harder than anybody else. 

“Luke George, Tom Shaw, they will lead by example on the pitch so I need to do that here.

“My players need to know I’m going to give them every opportunity and we’ve created a culture here where I can’t let that down.”

Blues CEO Maguire was clearly delighted to have tied McCarthy down to an extended deal. 

“The achievements on the football side are running ahead of where we are as a club, and I take the point that we want to match that progress that Jon has managed to make already,” he said.

“We want to continue to build that platform and that base to ultimately get the club back in the Football League.

“Jon has all the attributes required to manage at a higher level, it’s a pleasure to work with him and it’s a really exciting day for the club and that he’s willing to commit himself to the journey this club is on.”

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