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Honesty pledge from excited new AFC Telford United Paul Carden

Paul Carden promised straight-talking honesty and a desire to bring smiles to faces as he struggled to hide his excitement at landing the AFC Telford United manager role.

AFC Telford United Chairman Andy Price new manager Paul Carden and assistant manager Carl Baker Pic: Kieren Griffin
AFC Telford United Chairman Andy Price new manager Paul Carden and assistant manager Carl Baker Pic: Kieren Griffin

Former Warrington Town boss Carden, 42, was confirmed as the new Bucks chief on Sunday and spoke for the first time after penning a two-and-a-half year contract alongside assistant Carl Baker.

He arrives from the division below at a Telford side bottom of the National League North, with a long trip to Felixstowe first up in the FA Trophy on Saturday, before a crunch league game with fellow strugglers Guiseley next Tuesday.

Carden said: “I was here on Sunday and me and Carl are like ‘how good could this be?’

“The excitement of giving fans something to smile about again, getting more of the fans back in because we’re winning games.

“And ultimately enjoying what you’re doing, players, staff, if you don’t enjoy coming here you’re in the wrong game.

“I’m looking forward to putting together a side people want to enjoy and cheer and win matches.”

The new boss, who lives in Maghull in Liverpool, added: “It won’t be easy or plain sailing, people talk about teams on paper or squad lists but it’s out there where it counts.

“Leading up to games is going to make the difference, getting a tune out of the players, that’s why we’re here for.

“We’ve got a lot of excitement about us, it’s going to be hard work but work we’re prepared for and ready to get going.

“It’ll be the same from me, you’ll get honesty, I’ll say it how I see it, I’m not one of these who tries to dress it up with football jargon.

“Because at the end of the day you pull the wool over people’s eyes and still get found out, I’ll be as honest as I see it.”

Carden takes training at Lilleshall for the first time tomorrow night, where he will meet his new squad.

The former Chester and Cambridge midfielder, who was assistant at Tranmere and briefly in charge of Southport who he kept in the National League before taking the Warrington job, was under no illusions of the immediate challenge of lifting the team away from the foot of the table.

In his five years in charge of the step three Yellows, two seasons of which were curtailed due to Covid, he achieved the play-offs twice, missing out on promotion on one occasion due to the non-league restructuring.

"It's a huge club with huge potential, which I'm sure lots of players and managers have said. I'm looking forward to getting some points on the board and getting away from the bottom of the league, that's for sure," he said.

"For now we've got to do that, find a way to win matches. We'll have two sessions before the Trophy match, we're going overnight on Friday, it's more contact time to get to know them better.

"But it's a game we need to win, we need to start winning games.

"We need to get a winning habit, a winning mentality. As much as losing streaks, form and being disappointed becomes a habit, winning becomes a habit and that's our intention."

Carden follows a six-week interim period under Dennis Greene following the dismissal of Gavin Cowan in what proved a challenging and unclear time for the club.

Carden acknowledges that the playing squad – which features a number of young loan players brought in to improves fortunes in recent weeks – have had 'upheaval' and 'confusion' in recent weeks.

He said players will have the opportunity to showcase their abilities as he bids to 'get a tune' out of the group, but admits it is natural changes will follow.

"I look at the squad and there were players who at Warrington were out of our reach," the Merseysider continued. "Every player should be disappointed at where they are, if I'd ask them all if they were better than the Conference North, they'd all say yes.

"I wouldn't be here if everything was hunky dory, I know there's things need fixing, putting right, and giving the lads the opportunity to do that, which is paramount.

"It's been upheaval for them, a couple of managers come and go, they've all been signed by those managers.

"There must be a bit of confusion in there as to what's gone on, thankfully I'm in the building with Carl and we'll be looking to get things in order.

"It's somewhere we need to make the players enjoy coming to play and to showcasing what they've got, rather than being apprehensive.

"And having opponents coming here, playing bottom of the league, the pitch looks unbelievable, a lovely stadium – I don't want that, I want the complete opposite."

Carden added: "We need to push some buttons and get a tune out of the lads we've got here and if we don't do that then we make changes, that's natural.

"As a manager you've always got players and agents on the phone - agents never have a bad player!

"First things first is to see what's here, give the lads an opportunity, obviously loan players will run out at some point, it's not ideal to have so many but it is what it is. We want to have our own players.

"We don't want the core of the side borrowed, we want our own young players."

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