By Jon Couch
He’s already the most successful manager in Conference South history – now Steve King is ready to re-write the record books by targeting promotion all over again.
The former Lewes, Northwich, Farnborough, Macclesfield and Whitehawk boss has finished in each of the top five positions in the southern region of the second tier, reaching four play-off semi-finals and two finals.
Now, as the new manager of Welling United, he’s creating more waves in the transfer market, reuniting key members of the various squads which have succeeded for him before.
King is currently in the midst of a major shake-up at Park View Road, releasing a large number of the Wings squad which finished 10th in last year’s National League South table, and replacing them with a plethora of new arrivals, including five last weekend alone.
Former Ebbsfleet and Barnet centre-back Anthony Acheampong returns for a third spell with the Wings, and he will line-up alongside Richard Orlu, the former Dover defender who finished last season at Woking.
Trusted midfielder JP Kissock, who played with King at both Macclesfield and Whitehawk, also comes in, joined by wingers Nassim L’Ghoul and Gavin McCallum, who was Eastbourne Borough’s Supporters’ Player of the Year last season.
King, of course, is no stranger to overseeing large turnovers. Last season, at Whitehawk, he took over with the club having registered just one point up to mid-September but led a miraculous fightback in the second half of the season with the Hawks’ record bettered only by the league’s top two, Havant & Waterlooville and Dartford.
Sadly, he couldn’t save the south-coast club from relegation but now, with a new project to get his teeth into, King is ready to weave his Step 2 magic once again.
“Every manager will be aiming for the play-offs next season – and I’m no different,” he told The NLP. “While the club themselves haven’t set us any targets, as I manager I’ve set my own. I’m not the type of manager who is happy just to compete or consolidate, I like to go on the attack and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could take Welling United up.
“I’ve signed a two-year contract and, for me, a period of longevity is my aim. You can never say never in football obviously, longevity isn’t something that exists for managers much these days, but I want to stay for the two years, and even beyond, and make it work.”
King, though, is well aware of the task that faces him this season. With the likes of Torquay United, Woking, Billericay and ambitious Concord Rangers all harbouring lofty ambitions, King believes a number of clubs, like Welling, may have missed their best chance of progressing to the top tier.
“There’s some big clubs in the South next year, it’s going to be a very tough league,” he added.
“Looking back, I think a few managers will agree that last season was a good opportunity for clubs to make a mark as it was so tight. This year, with the calibre of clubs that have come into our league, it’s going to be tougher than ever.”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday
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