DAN BATEMAN is hoping Wokingham and Emmbrook’s positive start to the season can begin to bring the “feel-good factor back” to the club.
It has been a tough couple of years for the Sumas, relegated from the Hellenic Premier Division with just 13 points in 2016 and then finishing a disappointing 12th place in Division One East last campaign.
But Bateman, who returned as the club’s manager this summer after a year away, guided his side to a winning start at the weekend with a 4-2 success at AFC Aldermaston thanks to goals from Elliott Rushforth (2), Ben Knight and Luke Scope.
And the boss says his biggest task is changing the mentality around the club.
“This group have had two years of getting beaten up every week,” Bateman told The Wokingham Paper.
“Getting beaten and probably playing below where we should be, but we just need to get that confidence back.
“That’s the main priority.”
He added: “There is no doubt this squad of players have got the ability, we’ve just got to get that confidence and feel-good factor back.
“That comes from results, so days like Saturday will help. But I’m also not silly enough to think that’s solved all our problems and all our issues have gone away.
“We need to build and keep going forwards.”
Bateman has kept hold of the majority of last season’s squad but debutant Knight immediately he proved his worth at the weekend.
And the manager believes having plenty of players able to score goals will be key to any success Sumas may have this season.
“I think over the last couple of years we’ve struggled to score goals,” said Bateman.
“That puts added pressure on your defence if you know that you can’t score at one end and then you let in a goal at the other and suddenly it’s a defeat.
“My main aim was to try and get some forwards in and goals in the team so if we do make a mistake at the back, like we did twice on Saturday, because we’ve got goals it hasn’t cost
“With Ben and Luke Scope as my front two and the other options I’ve got with James Clark, Charlie Scope, Tom Williams and a few others, I’ve got so much attacking talent this year.
“It’s going to be a matter of keeping them all happy and getting them all firing, which is going to be my problem.
“But it’s a nice problem to have.”
Despite having a healthy looking squad already, the transfer business may not be over for the Sumas.
Bateman has his sights set high and feels he could do with strengthening further if Wokingham are to get back up to the Premier Division.
“I’m still on the look out for one or two,” he said.
“But I’m pleased with what we’ve managed to pull together over the pre-season.
“Certainly the main players I went after to try and sign I managed to get over the line, which is good.
“I had a squad of 16 on Saturday and I still had five on holiday so when that squad of 21 is available, the matchday squad will be an awful lot stronger than it was on Saturday.”
He continued: “I think we’ll be at the right end of the table.
“I think I’m still a couple of players short of being at the very top to be honest, but who knows?
“We’ll keep pushing this group of lads.
“We’ve got undoubted quality, but what we don’t know at the moment is what everybody else in the league has got.
“We’ll re-evaluate at Christmas but at the moment, the target is to win games.
“That will only lead us one way, which is where we want to be.”