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FOOTBALL: Merritt relishes Witney challenge
Justin Merritt says he can’t wait for the season to start after he was appointed as the new Witney Town manager.
The former Witney midfielder takes over at the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division club following the resignation of Mark Love last month.
Last season he and joint boss Justin Lee steered Oxford City Nomads to the Premier Division championship last season.
“I’m delighted to be appointed and now the first aim is to build a squad able to compete in that league,” said Merritt.
“The eventual aim is to get the club back into the Southern League.
“It was difficult with Nomads.
They were more of a development side which I didn’t have a problem with, but I want to be competing for promotions and wanted a new challenge and to go somewhere like Witney with all its history, is perfect for me.”
He will be assisted, as at Nomads, by Lee, as well as former Slough manager Eddie Denton.
As boss, Merritt has previously won promotion with Oxford City into the Southern League and was a coach when the same side completed the Spartan South Midland League and Cup double under manager Andy Lyne.
And now Merritt is setting his sights on bringing success to Witney, who narrowly avoid relegation from that division.
He added: “I am really excited with the management team we have assembled and I have already met a number of players about coming here.
“Anybody that saw Nomads play last season will have seen the brand of attacking football we played and that is the philosophy of all of us here.”
Witney’s backroom staff is completed with UEFA B licence coach Paul Davis, who was also at Nomads last season.
Lyne also returns to the club to oversee matters as director of football.
Merritt said: “It’s really a blank canvas here and we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”
Meanwhile, former Witney boss Gary Ackling says the success of new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has not surprised him.
Rodgers, a midfielder, spent two months on loan to Witney in 1994-95 under the management of Ackling.
Ackling also took Rodgers with him when he managed Newbury.
“Brendan was a very gifted player and I have followed his career closely and with interest ever since he entered the pro game,” said Ackling.
“I am delighted for him and it just goes to show that if you get the breaks anything is achievable in football.”