Southport manager Liam Watson has highlighted the importance of a good start as they take on Warrington Town.
The Sandgrounders welcome their rivals to Haig Avenue in their National League North curtain-raiser.
Dark clouds over the Big Help Stadium have passed, with a feeling of positivity now surrounding Southport following a dismal campaign last time out.
There has been wholesale changes in the playing squad but there has been much-needed investment into Watson’s squad, following the injection of sponsorships.
The influx of money has saw the experienced boss cast his net to bolster his squad and going into their encounter with Warrington Town, Watson is happy with the business and excited for the season ahead.
“I think we look fit, very athletic, everyone has had a go, they’ve mixed in and I have no complaints whatsoever,” he told Off The Park. “The most important thing is that we get off to a good start and if we do with the squad we’ve got, I think we’ll surprise a lot of people.
“We just need to be solid and steady. It’s really important that we kick on, I think we will, the players are in a good place. I feel confident which normally tells you, you get a sense of where you are.
“There’s an awful lot of new players that have come in, they have to settle and hopefully, the pre-season has helped. Apart from Morgs, they’ve been together from day one so we have done it the right way, I think, there’s certainly a spirit amongst them.”
Southport enter the upcoming campaign looking to have a similar start as they did the last. They romped to victory over Boston United in their curtain raiser, this time last year, but their good form would eventually run out as a poor run of form saw them narrowly avoid relegation.
The pre-season odds have put Saturday’s opponents as likelier candidates to win the league, despite Warrington embarking on their first ever campaign in step two.
Watson was complimentary of the work down by his former club and opposite number, Mark Beesley.
He continued: “It’s where I started my career as a player, I know all the players, a few of them have played for me in the past, Bees has done a brilliant job getting them promoted.
“It’s a bigger, tougher league, they’ll come up the league with momentum but we’ve got to play our way and ask questions.
“Anyone can beat you in this league, that’s for sure, if you look at the betting, Warrington are 33/1 and Southport are 66/1 so the bookies think they’re a damn sight better bet than we are.
“It’s opinions, I’d say what we’ve signed is very good and more to the point, I think some are better than I thought they would be, I’m delighted from that point of view.”
However, following their gruelling preparations, the Southport boss has a positive gut feeling going into the season.
“You have it in the pit of your stomach where you are, you also know what’s in your dressing room, you also know what you can achieve,” Watson said.
“I can’t hide behind the fact that the team, squad and I were nowhere near good enough last year, we have changed.
“We’ve changed the personnel, we’ve got a lot stronger, we’ve brought more character into the dressing room, we’ve got more desire to win but the proof is in the pudding, we’ve got to go out and do it now.”