After a season in which the Bridge came within a whisker of relegation, Briggs has ripped apart the set-up he inherited from Jim Harvey, retaining only three players. True to his word, he has completely rebuilt the squad as he prepares for his first full season in charge.
“It might seem like I’ve signed a lot of people over the summer,” said the Bower Fold manager. “In fact, I’ve only got a small squad of 17 or 18 players, but it’s a squad that’s got togetherness and team spirit where they’re all working for those 16 shirts.
“If they’re fighting for a place it can only hold us in good stead. I don’t want a situation where we have five or six disgruntled players sitting in the stand who don’t feel part of things. They’ve got to be fighting for the right cause and that’s Stalybridge Celtic and three points from each game.
“We’ve had a good summer and now I’m looking forward to the season starting. Things have gone really well and the lads have worked hard and taken on board what we’re trying to get through to them.
“As for Anthony Malbon, he’s signed an FA contract with us and he’s our player. If anyone wants him they’ve got to speak to me, Andrew Fearn or Rob Gorski.
“He’s not been to training or played in any of the friendlies so he hasn’t featured in my planning. I’ve had to get on without him. But if he had a change of heart of course I’d want to use him because he’s a fantastic player.”
Confident and upbeat as he may be, Briggs has a realistic view of the challenges that lie ahead. He believes competing in Vanarama North will be tougher than last year because of the promotion of Fylde, Chorley and Lowestoft, and the addition of Tamworth and Hyde who have been relegated from the national division. He also points to clubs such as Harrogate who are spending freely.
Briggs said: “There are some big clubs with big budgets but maybe we can be a surprise package. To use the old cliché we’ll take every game as it comes. If we can get a good start who knows what might happen?
“I’m really praying for that good start because I believe the lads are capable of winning games. If we show the same commitment and togetherness we have in pre-season I don’t think we’ll be far away.”