Mark Fell is hoping his players will hand him a belated birthday present this weekend when he takes charge of Lancaster City for the first time.
The former Ramsbottom United boss was this week appointed by the Dolly Blues as their new manager – replacing Phil Brown, who resigned last month.
Fell’s immediate task is to prepare his team for Saturday’s clash against NPL Premier Division promotion favourites Basford United at Giant Axe.
And the ex-Nelson boss is hopeful his men can secure all three points which would be the perfect way to celebrate turning 36-years-old the day before.
“I turn 36 tomorrow,” said Fell. “So if I can have my birthday present on the Saturday – a win in my first game – that would be perfect.”
Hailing from Barrow, Fell very much feels like his appointment at Lancaster is a homecoming.
He studied at the city’s university for many years and has recently relocated to the area.
And he is relishing the challenge of turning City’s season around after a disastrous start, which has seen them win only one league game out of 11 and sees them firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.
“I am absolutely delighted to be given the job,” said Fell, who watched his new team lose 2-0 at Farsley Celtic on Tuesday night.
“It is a club that I have known and admired for many years.
“I have lived in the city and it is a club which I have a lot of affection for.
“Lancaster is a club which has got a lot of potential
“We are not where we want to be at the moment. But we have got lots of time to get ourselves out of the situation that we are in.
“I am confident that we will be able to start looking up the table rather than over our shoulders. I am delighted to be here. I think it’s a great opportunity for me and a great opportunity for the club.
“I am just very keen to get started and get Saturday’s game done and hopefully we can start to move forward.”
Even though the team is currently having a tough time, Fell believes underneath it all the club is in good health.
The FirstDivision North title victory of 2017 and the season of consolidation last time out means – as far as the new boss is concerned – that only a few tweaks are need ed to improve the fortunes.
“I am a big admirer of Phil Brown,” said Fell, who will be assisted by former Preston North End and Burnley striker Graham Lancashire.
“He is a colleague of mine; we both work in the education sector.
“He’s done a fantastic job and we just want to drive it forward – build on the work that he did.
“The club has got ambition; it has a plan which is important. But first we need to get rid of the current doom and gloom which is around the club.
“We want to start to get some positive results and get us out of the danger that we are in.
“Ultimately we want people coming back to the football club by putting an attractive product on the pitch which people want to come and watch.
“We want to play good attacking football.
“In terms of where the club could go, I always remember Barrow versus Lancaster was always the Christmas fixture in the Conference North.
“I think the aspiration has always got to be to drive up to the next level.
“I don’t think Lancaster is a club which will say they are happy where they are.
“That’s the great thing as a manager. You want to hear that the club wants to get to the next level.
“I think the club can live at that level and it has lived at that level.”
Fell certainly has a baptism of fire this weekend.
Basford are rated as one of the best sides outisde of theNational League North and defeated the Dolly Blues 3-1 away less than two weeks ago.
“It will be a tough game on Saturday,” said Fell, who will be having discussions with Stanley and Matty Blinkhorn about their future roles at the club.
“I think they are second in the table.
“But we know a lot about them. The club only played them a few weeks ago. On that occasion, I think we were unlucky and on the wrong side of the margins.”
Fell could have Paul Jarvis, Ryan Winder an d Steve Williams available.