Ben Shoulders admitted his pride after being appointed Mile Oak Football Club’s new manager last week.
The 27-year-old, who has managed the reserve sides of both Worthing United and Southwick in the past two seasons, is excited ahead of his maiden role in first-team management.
Shoulders will replace Anthony Whittington in the hot seat following 14 seasons in charge of the Southern Combination League Division 1 side.
But Whittington will still have a role at the club next term, moving upstairs to become director of football.
Shoulders admits that was a massive factor in him agreeing to become manager and said: “I’m really excited and proud to have been given this opportunity.
“I started out managing at parks football level, then moved onto Southwick and Worthing United reserves.
“With United last season, we had a great year and managed to finish second.
“My intention was to find a first-team job somewhere but I wasn’t expecting to get one at a Division 1 side.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for me and one I can’t wait to get started with.
“Having Tony around as well was a massive factor in me taking this role.
“He’s been here for 14 seasons, knows the club inside out and said anything I need he is happy to help with, which will be fantastic for me.”
Shoulders has not yet managed to speak with any of Oak’s squad from last season but has spoken with some of his former side at United and hopes some will make the step up with him.
He added: “A lot of my team from last season want to join me here.
“When I went to Worthing United they had three players, so I had to build a team and we did really well last season.
“If I can get some of those on board, as well as keeping some of the team here from last season, I think we could have a great season.
“Most of the team I had last year were under 30, so to mix those with some more experienced players here would be great.”
After a tricky start to last season, Oak recovered to finish fifth in Division 1.
Shoulders admits after meeting with his new chairman Phil Brotherton, the top six is once again the aim next term.
He said: “I spoke with the chairman and he said a top six finish is the goal.
“I don’t think they had the best of starts last season but produced some really good late season form.
“Hopefully we can start well and then carry that on for the rest of the campaign.
“I think getting a squad together and having a full pre-season with the team will be a massive help and one that could well see us achieve the aim of a top-six finish.”
Former boss Whittington is pleased to remain at the club in a director of football role and said: “I’ll be around as much or as little as Ben feels he needs me to be.
“I never wanted to step down from my role as manager but I think after 14 seasons the club needed a change.
“This role gives me an opportunity to stay involved but also take a step away in certain aspects as well.”
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