MAIDENHEAD United chairman Peter Griffin believes there is no better manager to lead the club into the National League than Alan Devonshire.

Devonshire guided Maidenhead to the National League South title with an impressive 98 points and just four defeats. The Magpies secured the crown with a 3-0 win at Margate on the final day of the season.

The former West Ham United star was forced to miss the open-top bus parade around the town on Saturday as he recovers from a hip operation, but he has signed a three-year contract extension with the club.

Griffin is confident most of the title-winning squad will remain at York Road next season, and he has backed Devonshire to ensure they are competitive in the top tier of non-league football.

“Alan had spent three years at Braintree in the National League before coming down to us for two seasons, so there is not a manager better experienced going between the two divisions,” Griffin told the Observer.

“He will know what we need to do and where to strengthen. I don’t think there will be too much change in personnel. It’s about getting a few more numbers in and having everyone prepared.

Local Berkshire:

PHOTO: A Maidenhead United fan celebrates during the open-top bus parade on Saturday.

“If we are here this time next year and we’ve avoided relegation then we would be delighted, but I don’t think Alan has ever gone into a league season with that in mind. He will be determined to make sure we are competitive in that division.

“Quite possibly, we will be only one of five or six part-time teams and Alan will want us to be the best part-time side in the league. There are no two ways about it, he will want to beat a lot of full-time teams as well.

“Targets will be set and I think we can be competitive in that division, but we will not underestimate the jump that it is.”

He continued: “Five or six of the players have played in the National League before so they know what it’s like. They say it’s faster and you’ve got to be fitter and stronger.

“Other teams do not make mistakes at the back so you don’t get chances handed to you. It’s harder and you’ve just got to be fitter.

“I actually think we’re going to keep the vast majority of the squad together and that togetherness will be our strength.

Local Berkshire:

PHOTO: Maidenhead United lift the National League South title on Saturday.

“The reason we did so well this year is because it started last season and that, going forward, is exactly what we need to be. It’s going to be a part of what we have to do.”

Looking ahead to the National League season, Griffin declared: “We have to wait until the fixtures come out at the beginning of July, but who will we get for our first home game? Hartlepool United, Leyton Orient, Aldershot or Tranmere Rovers?

“We are already so excited because there are huge clubs involved in this league and proper Football League grounds, and we will be going to them.

“Home and away there are going to be some great days, so we’re going to savour it and really enjoy it.

“On and off the pitch it’s a great time for people to be involved with and support Maidenhead United, so I look forward to next season.”

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