MATT Clarke has tackled – and often beaten – the best non-league has to offer but insists becoming Redditch United manager “is the biggest task I have taken on in football”.

The former Hereford and Telford United defender, regarded by many as the best full-back outside the Football League in his heyday, featured for the Reds as a player and assisted Paul Smith to help stave off relegation from Southern League Premier Division Central in 2018-19.

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But since then the club’s struggles have intensified.

Clarke is United's fourth permanent manager inside 12 months, taking over from Wayne Spicer after a pre-season of struggle and before the ex-Bilston Town gaffer had overseen a competitive fixture.

Much of that turbulence occurred during the back end of Chris Swan’s tenure as chairman with Spicer appointed prior to new chief David Faulkner completing his takeover in July.

The club itself has had a facelift with Faulkner craving stability and a competitive team to rejuvenate interest, a tricky task with the opening league fixture little more than a week away.

It is a good thing, then, that Clarke, who has experienced being a number one with Halesowen Town and Evesham United, is no defeatist.

“Everyone at the club is on the same page,” he said.

“We understand the enormity of the task, it is huge but I am a winner. I always have been a winner and would not have taken on the job if I didn’t believe I could keep the club up.

“You look at pre-season at other clubs in the league, they want to strive for play-off positions and promotion and it is very rare a manager comes out and says we are going to fight relegation.

“Your sights should be set higher than that and we would be no different but when you look at the history of the club over the past couple of years, it is not a pretty picture.

“I am the fourth manager in around 12 months and that tells you there have been issues.

"Everyone outside Redditch United would expect us to finish bottom, the expectation levels are low but there is no way on this earth I am going to put my name to something like that.

“I am not deluded, I understand the difficulty of what’s ahead and it is the biggest task I have taken on in football, as a player or in management, but I believe in my ability.

“I cannot change it in 24 hours, it is going to take time, plenty of hard work and a bit of luck along the way but I believe we can turn it around and keep the club up.”