CRAIG MAHON feels the ‘professional attitude’ from Chester’s new signings is having a profound effect on the rest of the squad.
Blues boss Jon McCarthy made immediate changes to his first-team after finishing last season in 19th position in the National League, releasing the likes of Blaine Hudson, Elliott Durrell and Kane Richards before swooping for a host of experienced replacements including John McCombe, Kingsley James, Paul Turnbull and Ross Hannah.
Irish winger Mahon – who has battled back to full fitness after suffering a hip injury last term – admits ‘something wasn’t right’ at the club during the second-half of the 2016/17 but believes the current crop have instilled a professionalism from top to bottom.
“I’ve got to admit the players who the gaffer has brought in, they’re not only good players but they are fantastic people as well,” he said.
“There’s a real commitment from the whole squad to be completely professional. When we’re out on the training ground we work our socks off, but when we’re not training that professional attitude is still there and it’s spread to the whole squad.
“Obviously something wasn’t right last year. Something happened and there were certain players who weren’t doing their jobs and that led to a downturn in form.
“The good run we went on, one defeat in 17 games, it was no fluke, there were good lads in that group, but for one reason or another it went wrong.
“I get the feeling with the group now, win, lose or draw that professional attitude will be in place every day. We’ll work as a group to improve on things and put things right, the lads will want to put things right.
“Now you’ve got young lads like Nath Brown, Tom Crawford, James Jones, coming into the squad and they look up to the likes of myself, Kings, Turnbull, McCombe. That can only be a good thing and to be honest it’s been an absolute joy to work with these boys so far.”
The Blues claimed a 1-1 draw with Port Vale in their final pre-season friendly last weekend, Nyal Bell getting on the scoresheet for the second game running, and 28-year-old Mahon feels there are plenty of positives to take heading into the season opener at Solihull Moors on Saturday.
“After the game last week it was all positive,” continued Mahon, who is on course to break the appearance record since the club reformed.
“I think we’re going to focus a bit more on what we do well, rather than looking too much at what we expect the opposition to do.
“Rather than focus on what their set pieces are, we can look at what we do well. We want teams to worry about us, to let them do the worrying in terms of how we’re going to play and what we have to offer. If we can do that then I really think we could do something special.”
Mahon has endured a ‘frustrating’ period on the sidelines, limited to just three appearances off the bench from January onwards, but could be back in the line-up to face Solihull this weekend.
“I can’t wait now, just to be going into a season fully fit is a great feeling,” he added.
“It was frustrating being sat out for so long injured, being unable to help the lads when results were going the wrong way.
“We’ve had a very good pre-season, I think there’s a lot to take from it. Then that led us into the Port Vale game where we were the better team.
“If you’d asked anyone who they thought the Football League side was, they’d have said it was Chester.
“The lads have been fantastic and we’re ready to get going this weekend.”
See full story in the Chester Leader