United director of football Guillem Balague firmly believes the club are headed in the right direction as they prepare for Tuesday’s North Bedfordshire Charity Cup final against Stotfold.
Despite a difficult final period of the season in which the Second Meadow side won just two of their final 12 Spartan South Midlands Premier Division games, Cristian Colas’ team finished the campaign in ninth place – one point and one place better off than last term.
And Balague, who is coming to the end of his third season at the helm of football operations at United, is happy with the strides being made by the club both on and off the pitch.
“It’s great that a season finishes with a cup final,” the Spanish football journalist commented. “The last month and a half has been a time to reflect, to see where we are and where we have progressed.
“The league always places us where we deserve. To finish one point and one place above where we did last season may be seen as some kind of progression, but we look at the club as a whole.
“We are looking at what the academy has done and we can see that we are putting the foundations in place for what we want to do.”
Though Balague admits to being frustrated by United having slipped to ninth place from as high as fourth back in March, he was heartened by the team’s display in their 3-0 cup semi-final win over Baldock Town.
“In terms of the first team, I think we are winning in terms of creating a winning culture. We have failed at some point in the last month and a half but I have still seen performances that should be the basis for our future.
“The Baldock Town semi-final was one of them and I hope that this final will be another one.
“When we are switched on, we are a team that are completely different to most but can compete like any. That’s what we are looking for in this final.”
The director of football is in no doubt that the United squad will be ready for tomorrow’s match, to be played at Langford’s Forde Park ground, as they seek to reclaim a trophy they last won in 2015.
“For people like Simen [Moller] and Cristian [Colas], it is their first final – it is my second at the club, Tracey [James, club secretary] has gone through many more! Every final is played to be won and I am enjoying being involved.
“It is one of those moments that you work for in football and I know for a fact that everybody has worked to be physically and mentally ready for it.”
Regardless of Tuesday’s result, however, the Catalan wants United’s players to use the occasion to showcase the foundations that have been put in place over the last two-and-a-half years.
“Winning and losing are part of the game, so we should never forget that. But as long as we have given our all, as long as we can see what we have been training for on the pitch, as long as we can see everybody working for each other and showing commitment, that will already be a victory.
“Taking the cup home would be the beginning of a great summer and the end of yet another demanding but very exciting season.”