Tom Bender: 'My aim is the same as every year - I want to win promotion'
- Credit: DANNY LOO
He may be sounding like a broken record but the goal for Tom Bender burns as strongly now as it did when he first arrived at Clarence Park back in 2015 - to win promotion and get St Albans City into the National League.
He heads into the new National League South season with that target as his own personal driving force but while Saints were in sensational form last time out and will head into the new season in the discussion for the two promotion places, he is happy to let everyone else worry about the favourites tag.
He said: "My aim is the same as it is every year. My aim is to get promoted and it is as simple as that.
"I can help by getting the defenders doing our job and keeping clean sheets.
"But there’s no pressure for me. I wouldn’t see us as one of the favourites and I didn’t see us anywhere near the favourites last season.
"People have their own ideas on who is the favourite by who they’ve signed or rumoured budgets and it is all rubbish.
"It is the National League South and everyone can beat everyone else.
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"It makes no odds to me."
What does matter to him is that the squad continue to play to the best of the abilities and he believes there is still work they can do to get even better.
He said: "If we keep clean sheets then it gives us a good foundation to push on and win games.
"We can’t win every one but the more where we avoid defeat, the more points we get on the board.
"I still feel we can be better at putting chances away and we need to start killing teams off more.
"We can’t rely on winning 1-0 every time, we need to be beating teams by four and five."
Pre-season itself hasn't gone the way the club would have liked, with a number of their experienced players force to sit out of games and training due to troublesome niggles.
That though has its positive aspects as well as the obvious negative one according to Bender.
He said: "We’ve picked up some injures which doesn’t help, the whole idea of pre-season is to get the players fit and unfortunately for some of the lads, that’s taken a back-seat for the time being.
"But on the flip side we have got the young lads who have done unbelievably well.
"It can’t be easy for them, they’ve been thrown in at the deep end so to speak and probably weren’t expecting to play as much as they can.
"We’ve needed them with the injuries and they have done more than a good job.
"Some might say some of them that they have a naivety but I say it’s a lack of fear, they just want to get on the pitch and play.
"Sometimes that is a good thing.
"They don’t think about things too much, they do what comes natural and so far it has been pretty good."