DAN BATEMAN says he is “recharged” and “delighted” to return as Wokingham and Emmbrook’s new manager.
Bateman stepped down from the role a year ago following relegation from the Hellenic Premier Division, but has jumped at the chance to make a swift return to the club.
As revealed in The Wokingham Paper in March, Sumas new-look committee headed by Steve Williams were on the look-out for a new man to replace Clive McNelly at the helm for the 2017/18 season.
And after a week of interviews, Bateman is the man selected to take the hot seat.
McNelly and Jamie Shepherd will stay on at the club to assist the new manager.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Bateman told The Wokingham Paper.
“My intention was always that I wanted to take a year off. The last year in the Premier Division was very difficult and left me a little bit drained.
“I told the club that I wanted a year off, but there were no guarantees that the job would be there for me after a year.
“As it worked out, the new committee were looking for a manager so I applied and I got the job.
“I’m recharged, delighted and keen to get back involved and get the club back up to where it belongs.”
Bateman enjoyed a successful first spell in charge. During his three years at the club he won the Reading Senior Cup and clinched promotion from Division One East alongside co-manager Matt Eggleston.
Bateman revealed there are currently no plans for Eggleston to formally reunite with him, but says he was very keen to retain the services McNelly and Shepherd.
“I’ve probably been to eight or nine Wokingham games this year,” said Bateman. “I know a lot of the boys in the area and there’s not many in the squad that I don’t know.
“It was really important for me that both Clive and Jamie stayed on.
“They did a difficult job last year in difficult circumstances.
“I was really grateful that Clive stepped up when I finished and Jamie did a really good job as coach.
“After all of the time and effort they put in last year, they deserved to be part of it next year.”
While pre-season talk last year was focussed on trying to get Sumas straight back up to the Premier Division, they struggled with life in One East and finished down in 12th place.
And Bateman says the players in the squad are better than they showed under McNelly.
“I’ve got a really good nucleus of players that are certainly Hellenic Premier standard, although they may not have performed to that level last year,” said the new boss.
“I’ve not set any aspirations yet.
“Until you sign players, you don’t really know where you’re going to finish.
“I would be very disappointed if I couldn’t put a side together that was competitive in the top echelons of the league.
“There’s enough players in the area and Wokingham have got enough players already in the side that should be challenging up near the top of the league.
“I’m not going to say we’re going to win it or we’re going to get promoted, but we need to make sure we’re at least challenging.”
He added: “In my managerial career I think I’ve come second in Hellenic Division One East three times and won it once.
“We know what it takes to get up out of this league.
“We need to get the work ethic right, get the right commitment levels and then this year you’ll see that Wokingham will be a lot higher up the league than we have been.”