Phil Brown is well aware that Lancaster City’s fans have their eyes on the play-offs this season.
Having taken over in October of last season after the departure of Darren Peacock, the Blues’ former player and assistant steered a course from the lower reaches of the NPL First Division North to sixth in the table.
Brown wants an improvement this time around and knows that involves being involved in the promotion shake-up, starting with the opening game against Droylsden at Giant Axe on Saturday.
The Blues boss said: “I always want to try and get something out of every game and it’s about getting that over to the players.
“I’ve got a really honest group this year though.
“We don’t set targets as such but I want to do better than last year and if you look at the table that’s to finish fifth or above.
“Last year set a benchmark for us and we want to improve on it.”
Brown believes the division is more open this season but expects competition to come from all over as a whole host of sides sense an opportunity.
He said: “It’s really open. We’ve lost a couple of strong teams both financially and in terms of quality.
“The teams coming down, the teams coming up and the more established ones have all got an opportunity.
“Some teams have invested though and the ones coming up have that momentum.
“It will be very competitive and it might be open but by no means will it be easy.
“There’s going to be some really good teams and some tough challenges.”
Having had his first full pre-season in charge, the Myerscough College head of football has been able to put his stamp on both the make-up of the squad and its mentality.
The return of prolific front man Jordan Connerton to his home-town club is the most eye-catching signing while numerous other players have impressed during pre-season.
Louis Mayers and Charlie Russell have caught the eye since arriving while youngsters Danny Shearwood and Charlie Waters look to be ones to watch.
Brown said: “I’m happy with the group I’ve got.
“It’s an honest group of players who are going to give it their all for the club. It’s a good changing room but it might take one or two games for things to gel together.
“They’re physically right, the majority got plenty of game time in during pre-season.
“They’re a disciplined group and I’m excited going into the season.”