Belief will be key if Lancaster City are to achieve something in the Evo-Stik Premier Division, according to boss Phil Brown.
The Dolly Blues head to Buxton on Saturday as they begin life in the NPL’s top tier as First Division North champions.
Brown isn’t setting any lofty goals ahead of the new campaign but insists the onus is on his players, a number of new recruits having supplemented the title winners, to be confident they can meet the step up in level head on.
“Hopefully we can be competitive in every single game we play,” said the Blues boss.
“I want us to hold our own.
“I’m looking for us to finish nearer the top than the bottom.
“That’s how I’m feeling about things at the moment and will reflect on it in the next few weeks as we see how we go and how other teams are looking.
“We’ll be looking to get something out of every game.
“What we can we achieve? We can achieve what we believe we can achieve.
“If we think we can do well we more than likely will.
“If we’re apprehensive, we’ll probably struggle.
“Last year people looked at us on paper and didn’t think we were the best side in the league but on the pitch we most certainly were.”
While acknowledging the task that lies ahead, Brown believes his players will rise to the challenge.
“It’s going to be a challenge and we’ll have to be at it in every game,” he said.
“That’s no different from last year.
“But I’m confident I’ve got a good group who know each other well, get on well together and understand what is needed to meet the demands of every game.
“I’m confident they’ll hold their own.
“I’ve got to pick 16 for Saturday and that’s not going to be easy.
“As I said last season and it was proved right we’re going to need every player in that dressing room at the moment at some point this season.”
One key factor last season was the team spirit that seemingly drove them to an emotional title win in memory of former captain Neil Marshall who passed away from cancer.
“It’s about getting the right culture and environment,” said Brown.
“Right from the off, as soon as anyone goes into that dressing room, they know they’re going to have to work hard and be disciplined.
“They are our core values and the foundation of a good performance.
“From what I’ve seen everyone who we’ve recruited and the lads that have come back buy into that.
“The culture is that we’re in it together, it’s about the group.”
The final piece of Brown’s jigsaw looks to be former Barrow winger Andy Haworth who has signed on the dotted line after impressing on trial.
“He’ll be a good player for us,” the City boss said.
“In a poor team performance (in the 2-0 friendly defeat at Bamber Bridge) on Saturday he stood out.
“He had two good efforts and showed the power, pace and skill he’s got.”