The quality of players at Horsham FC means they “must” make the play-offs this season, according former manager Hugo Langton.
And although the likeable UEFA A licensed coach insists he has never been bitter about the manner of his departure he still feels the club were wrong to sack him.
This Saturday Langton comes face to face with Horsham for the first time since his departure nearly eight months ago with Herne Bay, where he is assistant manager, hosting Simon Colbran’s side.
And ahead of the Ryman South fixture he said: “I’m looking forward to it, not because we’re playing Horsham but because it’s another game of football.
“We are doing OK, we could be doing better, but we’ll be worried about keeping our run going, not worried about Horsham.
“From Horsham’s point of view I loved managing that football club even though it was very tough to compete in the Ryman Premier.
“I look back with some pride at some of the performances we put in against the top sides, games against Lowestoft, Wealdstone and Lewes where we played extremely well in games we had no right to.
“I’m not going to lie, I was sad to leave the club particularly with the long term plans me and (assistant) Craig Wilkins had. We know the Ryman South inside out and with the players we had we felt we could challenge.
“For me Horsham has to be in the play-offs this season, they have to be with the players and budget they’ve got.
“The league is not as great as everybody makes out and for me they must be in the play-offs.
“Their budget couldn’t compete in the Ryman Premier but it can compete in Ryman South all day long.”
Langton joined the Kent League champions in June and has helped last season’s FA Vase semi-finalists up to third in the table so far in what is their first foray into Ryman League football.
There was controversy over his Horsham departure, finding out he had been sacked from one of his players, though he insists Saturday’s match is not about revenge.
He said: “Things happen in football but although I do believe the club were wrong to get rid of me I totally respect the club’s decision.
“I’m looking forward to seeing (chairman) Kevin Borrett and (chief executive) John Lines, they’re both good guys and did what they thought was right for their football club and that’s fine with me.”
Langton is also looking forward to meeting up with Horsham president Frank King, who he calls “the nicest man in football”, as well as Adam Hutchings and fellow former players and Michael Hunter and Ian Varley, two players he brought to Gorings Mead in his time there.
The hosts will also boast some players familiar to Hornets fans with Calum McGeehan and George Landais now plying their trade at Finch’s Field.
Despite failing to win any of his 19 league games in charge of the Hornets Langton remains a popular figure amongst the fans, who he says were brilliant to him during his time as manager.
Langton is hoping a number of Horsham’s faithful make the trip to what he expects will be a tight and possibly cagey league meeting.
And looking at the division as a whole he says the fact that only eight points separate top from bottom shows it will be one of the tightest Ryman South seasons in recent years.
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