MICHAEL HERBERT says he was considering leaving Woodley United before this season even began.
Herbert announced his shock departure from the club this week, informing his players after their 1-0 defeat to Flackwell Heath on Monday evening, with assistants Spencer Meredith and Sukhi Kang also moving on.
It has been a short but highly successful reign for the young coach, winning promotion to the Hellenic Premier Division and also clinching silverware in the Berks and Bucks Intermediate Cup during his 14 months in charge.
But he says it became apparent over the summer that his days at the club were numbered.
“It was in the pipeline before the season started if we’re honest,” Herbert told The Wokingham Paper.
“We were initially promised a budget when we got promoted that didn’t materialise and we got told that information a couple of weeks before the season started.
“We just wanted to give it a go, mainly for the players’ sake.
“We thought we’d give it a go as long as we could and do the best we could.
“But it was just really difficult in the end to overcome that and a lot of the promises that we were made by Woodley at the start didn’t materialise.
“We think it’s only fair for the players if they get somebody in new and they go in a bit of a different direction than we anticipated it.”
After the initial concerns, Herbert finally made his mind up to move on earlier this month but after discussions with the board, agreed to stay until a replacement had been found.
And that replacement is assistant manager James Anderson, who has decided to step up to take on the role with immediate effect.
“We left on good terms and we got an appointment before we left, which was important because we don’t want it to be a major disruption to the club and to the players,” said Herbert.
“The club want to go down the route more of not having a budget and not spending money on players and going more for the youth route.
“We had a different plan in our mind and when we first went to Woodley about 18 months ago we had a plan with the club at the time.
“But I think the club’s plans kind of changed over the last 18 months and it’s not the same direction that we want to go.
“So it was a mutual decision and it was all done amicably between us and the club and it was really important they found a replacement before we announced our departure.”
He added: “There was only so long we could’ve gone on with it really.
“If we’re not going in the same direction then it’s always going to cause problems.
“So for the benefit of the club and the players going forward, it’s right that we made this move.”
Herbert always cited the team spirit as the key to Woodley’s surprising rise to promotion last year.
And the former Mortimer boss, who left the club 17th in the league, is confident they can avoid relegation from the Hellenic Premier Division.
“It’s the best group of players I’ve ever had to work with,” he said.
“They’re such a good group that it’s really easy to work with and it’s been a pleasure.
“They’ll stick together.
“They’re a tight-knit group and the team spirit is the best I’ve been a part of.
“I still back them to do really, really well this season and think they can stay up.”
Now that he is out of the firing line, Herbert admits he has had a chance to reflect on what has been a memorable spell in charge.
And his main focus now is on finding another job in management, but admits it could take a while.
“It’s good to take a bit of a back seat and have a look at how well we’ve done,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s easy to forget that it was a brilliant season.
“To take a team that finished with 14 points and finished bottom of the league in one season to getting joint on points with the champions Penn and Tylers and winning the Berks and Bucks Cup was a phenomenal achievement.
“We’re really proud of what we’ve done and we know what we’re capable of.
“We’re just looking forward to the next challenge.”
He added: “We’ve had a few offers in terms of coaching, but we’d like to stay together as a team if possible.
“It’s difficult when you leave mid-season so it is probably going to be looking at next season maybe for any new opportunities.
“But we’ll see what comes about and we’re still definitely interested in getting back into management.”
Woodley chairman Colum Moon commented: “It has been a fantastic privilege for us to have had Michael at the club and what we achieved last year was both unprecedented and unexpected.
“Whilst we are disappointed not to be able to continue this journey with Michael at the helm, we wish him nothing but the best for what I am sure will be a very bright future in the game.”