DIRECTOR of football Andy Preece has set his sights on Europe after strengthening his squad this summer.
The Englishman, who took charge of the Wingmakers in January, is looking to break the team into the top six in the Welsh Premier League this season.
Preece guided the side to its best ever finish of seventh in the league last term, losing 1-0 to Aberystwyth in the first stage of the Europa League play-offs.
“If we had got into Europe that would’ve camouflaged things a little, we weren’t strong enough and there was a bit of work to do to strengthen,” he said.
He also led Airbus to the Welsh Cup semi-final and is targeting a cup run this season.
Preece strengthened his squad over the summer bringing in nine players from former club and Unibond Premier League side Northwich Victoria as well as a number of young players from elsewhere in the Welsh Premier League.
The Midlander said: “I’ve learnt a lot over the last eight months. I’ve brought in nine players from Northwich Victoria – we brought in a few lads from England, we took a gamble to see if they can adapt to this level.”
Preece said he is pleased to have shed the difficulties that dogged his time as the Northwich boss during which he guided the team on an exhilarating FA Cup run but saw the club relegated after it fell into administration.
“I have really enjoyed it. There’s not the pressures off the field at Northwich. I’m still learning about the league. I’m looking forward to another challenge. It’s a long term project, there’s no immediate pressure to win the league or break into the top three. We are looking to build the club,” he said.
Preece adds that the standard of football in the division, led by TNS who have won three of the last four championships, has pleased him.
“The standard is very good, I’m not sure how heavily scouted the league is but there are a number of talented players.”
It has not gone unnoticed. Rhys Griffiths, the league’s second top scorer and an active fireman, signed for Plymouth Argyle from Port Talbot earlier this month while winger Craig Jones has joined Bury from The New Saints.
“You have to have a strong team to compete in this league,” says Preece. “Now I have that team and we’re ready to compete.”
[Interview from Footy Matters].