New Helensburgh Illawarra Premier League coach Paul Michlmayr believes there is great potential in his new team for 2024.
It was announced in September that Michlmayr would take over at the Thistle from outgoing coach Andrew Paine - who was given the head role at the South Coast Flame.
Michlmayr most recently was assistant coach to Stuart Beedie at Port Kembla. He said that he had learnt plenty under the experienced IPL coach this season that he can implement at Helensburgh.
Michlmayr was once coach of the Thistle in their District League days. Following that, he had stints as assistant and head coach at clubs such as Albion Park, Cringila, Woonona, Fernhill and of course Port Kembla.
But now, he has the task of building on Helensburgh's solid first season back in the top flight. He said that the core group of players would be sticking together again and added that they would be boosted by the signing of Harry James from Macarthur Rams.
"We've got a good core group of players that are all re-signing," Michlmayr said.
"Last year they played a fast, fluid style of game and when they move the ball forward very quickly it is very hard to defend against. Just inconsistency was probably their biggest weakness. They had a fair few draws to start the comp so they obviously didn't get off to the start they wanted but the tail end of the year they got on a bit of a run but just fell short of semis.
"So there are some good signs there as far as I can see as far as ability to score goals. We just need to tighten up our defensive unit and it'll go a long way to getting us to win some games."
Michlmayr looked back fondly at his time under Beedie at Port Kembla and said he took the job at Helensburgh with their blessing. He said there was plenty he learned under the Port Kembla coach.
"I had a great time at a very well run club," he said.
"The opportunity came up the last game of the year when we played them and asked me if I was interested and I said absolutely I was keen to have a chat to them about the options. There was no hesitation and I went with Port's blessing. They understood why and where I was from my point of view.
"Stuart allows the players to play. So it's not as regimented, they play with a level of freedom, but they also limit their mistakes. He knows how to get a result. I've gone to other places where they want to play nice and it all looks good but the results don't come.
Whilst still trying to tie up a couple of final re-signings, Michlmayr added that he was keen to utilise some of the club's talented younger players.
"We're going to give a few of the young kids a crack. The likes of Caleb Browne and Jayden Calver who are just on the fringes. So it gives us some great depth."
Helensburgh finished eighth in the IPL after being promoted following their league championship win in the District League the year prior.
In the end they finished five points outside the finals spots. The club performed strongly in the IPL, with second grade finishing third and falling short in the grand final.
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