NORTHWICH Victoria’s management team have set their sights high for the 2024/25 season.

Matt Barnes and his right-hand man Chris Broad took over the reins for the final 13 games of last term, winning seven of the last eight games, and have now extended their terms at the helm until the end of the forthcoming campaign.

They have both declared they are pleased with the progress of pre-season, which includes promoting a one-squad approach with the under 21s, and announced the retention of 10 players this week as well as tying down 21-year-old full-back Joe Hurst to a one-year contract.

It is all a far cry from this time last year, when there was a lack of stability and a muddled picture after the FA forced Vics into lateral movement out of the North West Counties League into the Midlands League.

“Last year when I came in I remember the first training session I attended and we had to cut it short because the quality wasn’t there,” said Barnes.

“So what we and the previous manager built throughout the season was fantastic.

“This time we were very cautious to make sure it was all going to be as stable as it could be.

“It’s the first time I’ve gone into a pre-season having lost probably only two players and it shows what type of club we’re at and what type of group we’ve got.

“The training sessions have been second to none.

“With what’s happened around the club over the last three to four weeks and with things that are going on, it’s probably the most excited I’ve been for an upcoming season.”

Broad added: “I think the aim is to challenge to win the league.

“We’ve talked about play-offs being a target, but I think for us play-offs is a minimum target.

“With what we’ve got squad-wise, what we’ve kept and what we’re going to bring in – and with us having had 13 games to look at the league we’re in – I can’t see why we wouldn’t be in the hunt for the play-offs and pushing higher than that.

“You’ve got to have a bit of luck along the way, you’ve got to keep players fit and not suspended.

“But if we do get a fair rub of the green we should be up there.”

Negotiations are said to be continuing with keeping Frazer Cookson on board, while Adam Reid and Sam Lynch are the players to have left the club.

Vics’ retained players: Joe Camozzi, Matty Clarke, Eli Fisher, Joe Keyworth, Sam Ogundare, Callum Parker, Marcus Perry, Alex Pritchard, Anton Smith, Dylan Switters.