That’s the opinion of assistant-boss Aeon Lattie, who feels it’s not a case of what might have been for the Bloods, what should have been.
Lattie believes the Butchers Arms team were ideally placed to push for promotion at Christmas. The reason their season tailed off so badly was a combination of suspensions disrupting team selection and – in his words – the tail trying to wag the dog.
He explained: “We should have made the play-offs but what can you do with so many players banned? Peter Dogan was doing a great job for us but was sent off five times. There’s a little gremlin that pops up in his head and he can’t control it.
“A red card for a tackle we could understand – we’ll acknowledge those all day long – but we won’t tolerate players getting into trouble for dissent. We told them that if that happened they would be hit in the pocket but even so some expected they would still be paid. When they weren’t, they got upset.
“Some stitched us up at the transfer deadline when we couldn’t get others in. There was a lot of naughtiness.
“But the fact is all the players were free to go. We had no one on contract. All it needed was seven days’ notice and off they went.”
Lattie also concedes that Droylsden had problems at the heart of the defence where the centre-half pairing was never good enough. Up front things were much better with a haul of 98 league goals.
“If you look at the top ten clubs we more than held our own. Where we let ourselves down was against teams at the bottom. We went to Radcliffe at Christmas, needing a win to go top of the table, but got done over because we didn’t have a full-strength side,” said Lattie.
The intention, now, is to build a squad that can lift the Bloods back into the Evo-stik NPL top tier. Lattie says he and manager Dave Pace now know the demands of the first division north and will be able to avoid the numpties and find footballers capable of playing the Droylsden way.
Fans can expect to see a significantly different side but built around a nucleus of last season’s players. Dogan’s future is doubtful as he faces a 12-game suspension, which Lattie says effectively renders him dead.
However, keeping that nucleud could be difficult. Lattie has already had a heated disagreement with one manager who made an approach to striker Ciaran Kilheeney.
No signings have been so far – but Lattie says his phone has started to ring.
He added: “If we don’t have a proper go next year we might as well call it a day. We’ve got to get out of this division.”