Ahead of every new season mountains of speculation appear as to who are the favourites for promotion the coming year.
Going into the 2019/20 season we took a look at which of the three Manchester sides could challenge for promotion to the National League North. Following Ashton United and FC United of Manchester getting relegated from the second tier of Non-League last year to the Evo-Stick League Premier Division and Radcliffe Borough getting promoted to that same division through the playoffs. The three clubs will have a host of derby games next year that we are sure will be exciting affairs for supporters and players alike.
Despite all three clubs being in the same division, there is nothing to say that any of the clubs will get promoted from what is a very strong division. With some big clubs such as beaten play-off finalists Warrington Town, Nantwich Town and South Shields.
Therefore, the clubs will all have to have good preseasons and especially for the two relegated sides, big squad rebuilding jobs will probably need to take place following relegation.
One of which at the first club we are going to look at is already well underway under manager Neil Reynolds…
FC United of Manchester
Following relegation from the National League North, FC United will be looking to bounce straight back up and, are in the process of having a major clear out under manager Neil Reynolds.
Only four players return from last seasons team including club captain Mike Potts. Meaning that the squad being assembled at Broadhurst Park will have a completely new look. Recruiting well and a lot of this has been based around Manchester signing a couple of players from their division rivals for next season including midfielder Ryan Shenton from Curzon Ashton, full back Mason Fallon from Radcliffe Borough and Paul Ennis from Ashton United.
Somewhat of an unknown quantity for FC United going into this season, so will they get promoted? Ask us again in a couple of weeks.
Another massive rebuild is well underway at Ashton, a number of key players from last year have committed to the robins though such as Liam Tomsett and midfielder Sam Sheridan.
Local players seem to have been a focus for this season, taking two from local rivals Curzon Ashton in the form of midfielder Chris Rowney and returning to Ashton United for a second spell John Pritchard.
The club has also brought in players who know this level very well, in Hyde United defender Kyle Harrison and former Bradford Park Avenue winger Nicky Clee.
The recruitment of players who know this level will only help Ashton United and holding on to a core of players will too, we can see them challenging this year.
Following their promotion, last term will a double promotion be on the cards?
Radcliffe are yet to strengthen their squad, although they can be forgiven only gaining promotion a couple of weeks ago. But keeping hold of the players who did so well for them will be key especially with their new rivals/neighbours sniffing round, having already lost Mason Fallon to FC United.
It completely depends on the aspirations for Radcliffe, they’ve shown the class they have through promotion last term a couple of additions could see them heading in the right direction up the table. With the strength of the other clubs in the league, however, we don’t think Radcliffe will go up again.