A week after The New Saints were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League, Craig Harrison revealed that everyone associated with the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League club can hold their heads high after their European exploits and is also very excited ahead of the new 2014/2015 season.
After a testing couple of months preparing for the best club competition in the world, The Saints will now turn their attention to retaining their Welsh Premier League crown and Harrison is hoping to win his fourth domestic title in as many years, ‘I am looking forward to start next season and it will be great to start it against a team like Bangor City. I am excited at the thought of winning a fourth title because we have a team that is more than good enough to retain the league, as the players have proven season, upon season. I am always confident thanks to the squad I have at my disposal and we will be looking to secure a fourth title on the spin this season.’
The former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender was incredibly proud of his players after the match at Rhyl on Tuesday night and believes his team are getting closer each year. Harrison’s first UEFA Champions League experience came against Swedish Champions, Helsingborgs IF and last season his team lost out to Polish giants, Legia Warsaw. Despite not scoring against the Slovaks, the 36 year old was once again pleased with the performances and said, ‘I think the second leg result wasn’t a true reflection of the game as we played incredibly well in the first half and we limited them to chances as well as creating chances for ourselves. I am very proud of the team and all of them gave everything they had for the cause. It still feels a bit like a hangover and we are all still gutted but we haven’t got long to feel sorry for ourselves because we have got another big season starting next month.’
In what can only be seen as a compliment to The Saints, SK Slovan Bratislava celebrated both of their goals, as well as the victory, like they had won the whole competition, which goes to show how much of a threat The Saints were to Frantisek Straka’s side. For large periods of both legs, TNS competed physically and technically with the Slovakian Champions and had chances in both games to score goals. Harrison concluded by saying, ‘We had an early chance with Greg Draper and if that went in, you never know what can happen but overall we played very well in both legs and competed against a very good side and a big name in European football.’