David Holdsworth set for another season of hard graft at Lincoln City
David Holdsworth worked day and night for the Imps as he pulled them from away from the relegation zone last season. He told the Echo's sports editor John Pakey how he is prepared to do it all again in the battle to keep the cash-strapped club in the Blue Square Bet Premier...
The word 'tough' comes out a lot in conversations with Lincoln City boss David Holdsworth.
It was a tough job when he arrived at the Imps in October last year to replace the sacked Steve Tilson.
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Tilson's disastrous tenure in charge of the Imps had seen him drag them out of the Football League and assemble a mis-matched squad for life in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Holdsworth had to deal with a dressing room in tatters, that was tough.
He then had to do it while cutting back on his budget to help keep the club financially stable – that was even tougher.
The fallout of Tilson's regime had left the Imps staring at the prospect of a second prospective relegation, yes, another tough scenario.
But through all this Holdsworth and thankfully Lincoln City endured.
You cannot blame him for hoping life might have got a bit easier this summer, but with the club's finances still in a perilous position he was faced with the prospect of pulling together a squad on the lowest budget he had ever worked with.
Holdsworth's life at Lincoln never gets easier, but his resolve is never failing and there was no waiting about.
"Timing was really important in my recruitment process, from the position that we didn't have much time or budget to work with," said Holdsworth.
"That was the hardest part of the process, having to decide what areas of the squad needed work and what I could get for the budget.
"In the end there was a lot of hard work done to get the most out of the budget and I've managed to get players through the door who have taken pay cuts to join this club.
"Ultimately, after everything has happened with the fallout from relegation, the club needs to be stable.
"We would love to be chasing big name players, but we have to be realistic about our position and work hard."
New faces came through the door early on in Andrew Boyce from Gainsborough and Gary Mills from Nuneaton, while Peter Bore signed on the line straight away rather than face the prospect of a summer trying to find a club.
It meant pre-season would not be spent trying to chase down players.
"The big aim of pre-season was to bring together a new squad and I'm delighted with the type of characters I've managed to bring in," explained Holdsworth.
"It hasn't taken long for the boys to gel together and get that good team spirit.
"The boys have worked hard and I'm delighted with their professionalism and the fact they came back into pre-season in great shape."
Just as all the pieces started to fall into place Cambridge came calling for the signature of the Imps star striker Sam Smith, and finances dictated.
But even with this blow, Holdsworth remains pragmatic about the job ahead.
"We have had to sell our main striker eight weeks before the start of the season," he said.
"At present I don't know if the funds raised from that sale are going to go back into the budget.
"That is a big thing because for me goals are the most important aspect of a team and you cannot afford to lose them.
"However, the chairman has always been honest about the situation at this club, and I believe that people fully understand how difficult the situation is because of that.
"If the chairman does give me the cash from the sale of Sam Smith, then I will make sure I spend it wisely.
"But at the moment I'm faced with the prospect of looking at my formation and changing it round to work with what I have.
"The fans will be understanding of the situation, but they will be wanting to win every game and want players to pull on that shirt and play with pride.
"Lincoln fans realise it will be tough. There are a lot of clubs in the league who have much bigger, huge, budgets compared to us and they will have a lot of expectations heaped on them.
"At Lincoln I had to listen to what the chairman had to say and then work out a plan with what I had."
And what of the fans. They have suffered longer and tougher times than Holdsworth.
The Imps boss realises this and while he may not be able to deliver big names on the squad sheet, he hopes those who do line-up against Kidderminster on Saturday have big hearts.
"The fans know what I'm telling them and they have to believe it," said Holdsworth.
"They won't want to be down the bottom, we have worked hard all summer, everyone at the club has worked hard this summer and we don't want to be down the bottom.
"We may be small in size this season, but there is a big heartbeat to this club and it means a lot."