New Penicuik Athletic manager Johnny Harvey can’t wait to get started at the club where he enjoyed his football the most.
Harvey was officially appointed as boss on Thursday night following Craig Meikle’s resignation earlier in the week and it was an opportunity he couldn’t refuse.
The 33-year-old established himself as a fans’ favourite in two spells at the Midlothian outfit and is held in high regard at the club with the striker being their all-time goalscorer.
The young boss has come a long way in a short time, having managed just three full seasons since he took charge of Edinburgh United in 2013 and leading the Paties Road side to the South Division title before repeating that feat with Haddington Athletic the following season.
“I’ve done three seasons as a manager now and to be fair if somebody had told me at the first training session that I took as a manager that within three years I’d be managing Penicuik in the Super League I would’ve thought that’s a bit soon,” said Harvey.
“It’s happened quick but I’m absolutely delighted that it’s happened. It was a tough decision and I mulled it over for a couple of days but I felt it was the right decision to make.
“It was a very hard decision to leave Haddington purely because of the group of players I had. I had a brilliant set of players who were so dedicated and committed not just on match days but training sessions as well. I can’t speak highly enough of them.
“If I turned down the Penicuik job I don’t know if I’d get another opportunity to manage them. As much as I enjoyed my time at Bathgate because we won the Scottish Cup, Penicuik was always the club where I enjoyed my football most. I’ve got a good relationship with a lot of people up there and I’m absolutely delighted to be back.”
Harvey’s backroom staff of Keith Wright, David Lees, John Menzies and Alix Ronaldson have followed him to Penicuik Park. He hopes to name Ryan Gay as his assistant player-manager next week. The midfielder, who celebrated his tenth season at Penicuik last year, had been linked with a move to Haddington but extending his deal will be Harvey’s first priority as boss.
Harvey is pleased with the quality of player he has inherited with 12 already signed up for next season. He aims to bolster the squad with a view to competing at the top end of the Super League.
He added: “I’ve looked at the list of players and I’m impressed with the squad that I’m inheriting but I will have to bring in six or seven players. I want to have a competitive edge to the playing squad where it doesn’t matter who is playing on Saturday, the bench will be as strong as the starting 11.
“I’ll be looking to improve on last season. It’s obviously going to be very difficult because they won a cup, that will be hard to beat, but certainly in the league we’ll be looking to improve and finish better than where they finished last season.”