Barely nine days after stepping up from the coaching staff to replace John Flanagan, he begins his reign as Curzon Ashton manager with the small matter of a derby at FC United. It could hardly be a more demanding start, but Bradshaw can’t wait.
“When we step out at Broadhurst Park it’ll be a massively proud moment for me. I’m very excited. Managing a club at this level is something I’ve been looking forward to for a number of years and I can’t wait,” the new Nash boss explained.
“Every game is tough in this league — there are no easy ones as they’re all good sides. I went to watch FC United last Saturday and they’re a good young team. Neil Reynolds has implemented his way of playing since he took over in October but after a good start they’ve lost their last three.
“On Saturday we’ll have to apply some method and hopefully we’ll take something from the game. My task is simple. We have to win as many points as we can.”
Bradshaw insists the sacking of Flanagan and assistant Ian Nevison was as much of a shock to him as it was to everyone else. Even though he wanted the manager’s job, and expected to be offered it one day, he was surprised to get the call from the Tameside Stadium board at the end of last week.
He said: “I’ve seen all the comments on social media and Twitter, and they were entirely understandable. John and Ian did a magnificent job but the decision has been made by the directors, and they made it in what they see as the best interests of the club. Now, we’ve just got to get on with it.
“Since it was made it’s been a whirlwind few days for me and I’ve been working non-stop to focus and get things organised.
“I was genuinely surprised to be offered the job, although the way the directors had spoken to me over a long period of time I did expect the opportunity would be there once John moved on. But I never ever thought it would happen when it did.”
Although the decision to sack Flanagan after seven years of unprecedented success has been condemned by many on the Greater Manchester non-league football scene, a sizeable section of Curzon fans believe it to be right.
One long-time supporter said: “John did a good job but he went stale. We’ve only had one home league win all season. We want to see better performances from the players — to be entertained — hopefully Mark Bradshaw can do that. We needed to freshen things up with new blood.”
The new manager met the players last Saturday when there was no league match because Guiseley were playing in the FA Cup. He was accompanied by three directors and the squad were invited to ask questions and voice any concerns.
Bradshaw added: “We followed up with a training session and they all worked very hard. I tried to explain the little changes I’m going to be making but that process will start properly tonight (Tuesday).
“It’s all about putting my stamp on things. It’s different methods and the way I think we can improve because that’s my job — to get that bit more out of the team and get better results.
“Hopefully people are aware of my success with the youth and junior teams. I’m big on young players pushing through. I want to further the junior set-up at Curzon Ashton. I want a strong side that has the correct values.
“Like everyone else, I want to see attacking football but there’s no point in saying we’ll play a certain way all the time. The type of game we play will depend on what’s going to get us results. We’ll be taking every match on an individual basis and considering what will be best on the day.”