Pagham boss Bob Paine believes his young side can achieve a top ten finish this season – despite the squad being pieced together in just a few weeks.
The former East Preston manager only took charge at Nyetimber Lane a month ago, meaning other SCFL Premier clubs had a head start on preparations for the new campaign.
Paine has acted quickly, bringing in more than ten new players into the first team and also placing greater emphasis on the youth set up.
All eyes are on bringing long-term success to the Lions – but the new manager admits that, while patience will be needed, he is keen to start producing results sooner rather than later.
Paine said: “If we can finish in the top ten, considering where we are now and the work we are trying to do, that will be good.
“No one is under more pressure than we [the coaching team] are.
“We are behind the curve ball and see it as a longer term project. We have to start somewhere and need to manage expectations.
“We will all try to do the best we can. But we have to be realistic.”
Pagham start their league season tomorrow with a trip to AFC Uckfield (3pm) before hosting Saltdean United on Tuesday (7.30pm).
Lions rounded off the pre-season preparations with a 4-3 victory over Combined Counties side Deportivo Galicia last weekend.
Paine is now focused on preparing for competitive matches – with the first team and under 23s training together moving forward
He said: “This is a club-wide project. It’s not about having separate teams but about being inclusive and the lads knowing that if they do well they will get a chance to progress through the pathway.
“Last year, at East Preston, the senior and youth teams had 91 fixtures and I probably saw 86 of them.
“That’s sending the message to players that if they play well that will be recognised and they will get opportunity.
He added: “The chairman and other committee members know it will not be an easy start but I know things in the past have worked and look forward to bringing that to Pagham.”