TODAY, Paul Carden will start his fourth full season as Warrington Town manager.

The previous three have ended in some form of heartache as Yellows still strive to escape the Northern Premier League Premier Division at the top end.

First it was play-off semi-final defeat, then it was the gut punch of losing the one-off “super play-off” and last year, coronavirus curtailed the season just as they were hitting their stride.

Warrington Guardian:

The 2018-19 season ended with Yellows losing a one-off "super play-off" against King's Lynn Town. Picture by Mike Boden

With all of that in mind, does he think Town are due some luck?

“I don’t like to talk about luck because you earn what you get,” he said.

“Have we done enough to earn a bit more? Probably, but until it happens we have to keep working as hard as we can to make it happen.

“If you start relying on other things, you can let down.

“If we rely on ourselves, the only people we can blame if things don’t work is ourselves.

“I say it to the lads every week – don’t rely on officials or opponents, rely on yourselves.”

The journey to get to this point has been seemingly endless – 193 days have passed since Town beat Matlock Town 3-2 at Cantilever Park in their last competitive fixture on March 10.

Warrington Guardian:

Tom Warren's late winner against Matlock in March is celebrated by his Town teammates. Picture by John Hopkins

After a pre-season like no other in which training has been done with social distancing in mind and nine pre-season friendlies, Carden and the squad are ready to go.

“I won’t lie, pre-season games do bore me,” he admits.

“You get to a point in pre-season when the enthusiasm towards games can be subdued.

“Teams make changes in games, the tempo drops and it just becomes a run-out as opposed to a proper competitive game.

“There isn’t much on them other than getting fit, looking at what you want to look at and coming through with no injuries.

“Generally, there has been more positives than negatives but we’re ready to go now.”

After the 2019-20 campaign was declared null and void with no promotion and relegation, Town’s rivals will be the same as last season.

A unique situation no doubt, but Carden believes some clubs have sensed the chance to get the jump on others.

It is no secret that Yellows are working on a vastly-reduced budget, but others have been more fortunate.

“There’s a number of clubs who have sensed an opportunity in that others have had to make cuts and have lost players. Clubs have tried to use that to their advantage,” he said.

“There will never be a game in this division that’s not competitive, no matter how many new signings teams have brought in and where they’ve come from.”

One of the teams that have recruited extensively – and perhaps expensively – will be standing across the field from Carden’s men today.

Basford United were among the front-runners when the season ground to a halt last season and the Yellows boss expects them to be challenging again.

Warrington Guardian:

Town and Basford United last met last December, playing out a 1-1 draw at Cantilever Park. Picture by John Hopkins

“They were up there last year. They’ve always been a side that’s ambitious and its well documented that the chairman is ambitious,” he said.

“The manager has a good CV about him, they try and do things the right way and they want to move up the levels.

“They were doing something right then and I don’t expect it to be any different.”