NEW manager Brendan Kelly insists he intends to make the Bromsgrove Sporting hot seat his own despite seeing close pal Paul Smith vacate the post.

Smith stood down with immediate effect on Wednesday, five days after announcing he would quit at the end of the season, amid a row over his proposed contract and the direction of the club.

Kelly had been Smith’s right-hand man during a successful stint which has seen Sporting follow up last season’s Midland Football League Division One title with a push for Premier Division honours.

Smith has hinted at a possible return in the future without defining in what role but ahead of his managerial bow at home to Boldmere St Michaels tomorrow (7.45), Kelly was adamant he would not be moving aside.

“The circumstances have been difficult but my immediate concern when Smudge stepped down was for the lads in the squad,” said Kelly.

“I had the call from Mike (Burke, chairman) and he wanted a level of continuity. It was not an easy decision but I did not want to walk away from the position the lads have got us into.

“I want to continue this journey and achieve promotion. That’s what we’re aiming for.

“It has been announced that I am the permanent manager and I cannot see anything changing with regard to that. Mike has given me that backing and I have no qualms with that.

“As for Smudger returning to the club, he said he would like to in some role in the future but I cannot speak for him and what position that may be.

“I have spoken to him (Smith), there is no rift between us, we are still close and he has wished me all the best. He did not go into any detail with regard to any return.

“After I stopped playing, I always had aspirations of becoming a number one.

"I learned a lot from Smudge through being an assistant and will be forever grateful to him for that but also believe I have it in me to be a successful number one. I see it as a permanent role."

Kelly will have to do without midfielders Robbie Bunn, Ahmed Ali and Liam Holt who all left in the wake of Smith’s departure. Wade Malley has since transferred to Racing Club Warwick.

“They had their individual reasons as to why they wanted to move on, I understand their reasons and am not going to stand in the way of players who don’t want to be at the club,” added Kelly.

“I wish those lads all the best and hold nothing against them. We haven’t fallen out and I am sure they will do fine.

“There were no financial reasons. Some of them were a bit unsettled by what had happened with Smudge, they made their decisions.

“Robbie was under contract but we have come to agreement to terminate that. He has been great for the club and I have no issues with that.

“We had three or four discussions but he is standing firm and I am not going to stop a lad playing football, I would never do that so he can move on.

“We have some targets. I might be getting some things over the line in the next couple of days but nothing has been confirmed yet.

“The squad is still strong. There is still 16 or 17 but having lost three central midfielders, that will be an area we are looking to strengthen straight away.

“I am looking forward to the challenge. Smudge has got us into a great position, he has played a huge part and the success he has had is unquestionable. I will be doing my best to continue that with the lads that have decided to stay.

“The fans deserve it, they are unbelievable and travel all sorts of distances to support us and I want to bring more of the success Smudge has delivered over the past couple of years.”