Neil Young says Marine must “aim for the stars” as they look to challenge the upper reaches of the Northern Premier League.
The Mariners narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season with a defeat to Warrington Town at Rossett Park seemingly ending their hopes.
During the summer, Young has moved to rebuild and shift the attitude of his squad with the injection of National League quality, as well as a change in philosophy.
Going into their season opener against Gainsborough Trinity, the Marine boss is happy with the business and the early signs from their friendlies.
“We’re prepared, it’s a new squad, a lot of integration of new players,” he told Off The Park. “I think if anyone watched us in pre-season, we’re trying to play a more possession-based football, if we can.
“We‘re not being silly about it in terms of playing from the back and all this stuff, what we are doing is trying to look after the ball a little bit better. We’ve got some good technical players at the top of the pitch now so it’s pointless launching long balls, we need to try and be better on the ball and better off it.
“Pre-season, particularly Bootle and Nantwich games, I thought we done really well in and now we’ve got to continue that into the season.
“It’s always important to win football matches,” Young said on the need to make a positive start to the season. “We’re a fairly new group still getting used to each other and we’ve changed a lot of what we do.
“It is coming to fruition and hopefully will keep improving as we go. How soon that is in the process, I don’t know, sometimes pre-season can fool you. We will go there, it’s a tough place to go, beat us twice last year so will be a good marker for where we’re at.”
With South Shields and the Yellows earning promotion to the National League, the likes of Bradford Park Avenue, Basford United, Ilkeston Town, Macclesfield, Ilkeston Town, Workington and Worksop Town complete the schedule.
Marine have been listed as outsiders to win the title as the Silkmen dominate the bookmakers odds. However, Young says he is happy with the squad and while pre-season has been promising, he is aware of the false dawns preparations for the new season can bring.
Young said: “We can only look after ourselves, I’m happy with what we’ve got, I’d like to add two more players if we can. A midfield player and a defender but we won’t be rushing into that, I’m happy with the squad of players that we’ve assembled.
“They’ve trained well, attitude has been first class so I can’t worry about what everyone else is done and what we can do. We’re very happy with the recruitment, we’ve achieved so far – it’s early in the change – and we’re happy with where we are at the moment.
“Players have come in, took on board what we’re trying to achieve, what we’re trying to do but it’s very early in that process.
“There’s nothing like real football matches to test where we’re at and when there’s three points are on the line. The proof will be in the pudding and that pudding will be on Saturday.
“Our aim at the start of every season is to try and win the league. There’s times when you have to be realistic, at Chester in the National League, on most occasions we try the season off to try and win the league.
“It’s easier said than done but you’ve got to aim for the stars and see where you land, I’m under no illusions over the size of that task to achieve that but I’m sure if you speak to other clubs in the league, who have strengthened, will be looking to achieve the same as we are.
“There’s only one team who can win it, the next four play-off, we’ve got to aim to try and win it, if not aim to finish as high as we can.”
Marine kick off their campaign away to beaten playoff semi-finalists Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday.
And the Mariners boss knows the difficulty that lies ahead. He said: “It’s a very good start, they beat us twice last year. They’ve got a good time but the best time to probably play Gainsborough is now.
“We went there last year towards the end of the season, we arrived five or 10 minutes before kick-off, in fact we never nearly got there. You’ve got to play everyone twice, it’s not going to be easy.”