LIAM McDonald said leaving Redditch United to become the new Hednesford Town manager was the hardest decision he has ever had to make, but believes he departs the Valley Stadium with the club in a healthy place to continue its progress.
McDonald, 31, made the move to the Pitmen on Monday and will be joined at Keys Park by his assistant Nick Green and coach Dave Bridgwater, who have also said farewell to the Reds.
McDonald’s exit – less than a fortnight after the Reds’ Southern League Premier Division promotion hopes were ended by a cruel penalty shoot-out defeat to Leamington in the play-off semi-final – has been met with a mixed response by United fans on social media and some of the criticism has prompted McDonald to defend his decision.
“This has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make and I am going to miss lots of people at Redditch United tremendously, not least the fans who have always stuck by me during my three years in charge,” said McDonald.
“I am ambitious and have had chances to leave Redditch before but stayed because leaving was not the right thing for either myself or the club.
“This time though, I feel as if I have taken the club as far as I could. The play-off defeat took a lot out of me and the workload off the pitch took its toll as well. I am a confident person and have faith in my ability but I’d gone as far as I could.
“I got the offer from Hednesford and mulled it over with Nick Green and Dave Bridgwater and for all three of us it was a good move. Hednesford is a big club which both myself and Dave have played for and it’s a new challenge for me at an important stage of my career.
“I know people have said it’s a sideways move with Hednesford now at the same level as Redditch, but the Northern Premier League is completely different to the Southern Premier and will throw up different challenges which I need to enhance my experience.
“I feel this move will aid my development as a manager and I need that if I want to become a professional manager, which I do.”
McDonald said whoever takes the managerial reins at the Valley will inherit a set-up geared for success.
“Redditch United is in a good place now. The supporters are on the up, attendances have increased and the new 3G pitch and the rest of the off-field improvements mean it’s an exciting time. There will be no shortage of applications for the Redditch job,” he added.
“When I took charge it was not easy to attract players but we have put foundations in place now and after finishing tenth, sixth and second people will see what has been achieved at Redditch and can be in the future and will want to sign for the club.
“I owe Chris (Swan, chairman) a lot for giving me the opportunity to manage the Reds and I thank him truly for that, but I am satisfied I have paid him back with what we’ve done at the club.
“I am not motivated by money. In three years at Redditch I’ve never really had a wage as such, it’s been whatever’s left out of the budget. It’s the same with Hednesford, I have not even discussed money with them.
“I just feel that managing in the Northern Premier and taking on the new challenges that will present is the right thing for me at this time.
“Redditch United has and always will have a place in my heart and I intend to come down and support the club when I can. Chris (Swan) and I have a good relationship and I will do whatever I can to help the new Redditch manager if the situation arises with player recruitment, etc.
“Chris is a clever man and I’m sure he will make the right managerial appointment. The new man will have the whole summer to get his squad in shape for the new season and that’s important.”