NEWPORT County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh says his team exceeded expectations last season and the target for the new campaign is to improve on 14th place in League Two.
County continue their pre-season preparations with a friendly at Cirencester Town this afternoon and Edinburgh is happy with his squad’s progress, despite the loss of Max Porter to a groin injury.
But the Exiles boss has warned fans that no club has a divine right to win promotion in what he believes will be a highly competitive division in 2014/2015.
“The squad had a fantastic first season in the Football League – finishing 14th – I don’t think we could have wished for any better than that,” said Edinburgh.
“Now it’s about continuing to grow. It is 25 years since we’ve been in the Football League.
“There are teams that have been in this division for 50 years without being promoted so we don’t have any right to be successful.
“There are a lot of big clubs in this division with the teams coming down and with Luton and Cambridge coming up.
“We have to be realistic and our aim for this season is to finish higher than we did last season.
“That’s going to be tough but with the players we’ve got I feel it’s something we can achieve.”
Edinburgh will take another look at trialists Mark Byrne, Joe Carter, Sheldon Sellears and Jack Simmons today and possibly winger Chris Jones but he is working within a tight budget and trying to contain fans’ expectations.
“From where we’ve come from since I’ve been here, in a short space of time, it means we have to be realistic,” he said.
“We have to continue to progress and build with stability, to improve every year.
“Our budget is a mid-table, if not below, team and we have to be realistic but on the other side of it we’re ambitious and competitive and we want to win every game.”
Can his side mount a challenge for the play-offs? “I don’t think we’re quite there just yet,” said Edinburgh.
“Nobody expected us to do it in the Conference but we have to start well, focus on the first month and take it month by month rather than setting yourself goals that are unrealistic and unachievable.”
One big factor in a disappointing end to last season was the poor state of the Rodney Parade pitch but Edinburgh is hopeful that work over the summer will prevent a repeat this year.
“The club has done everything in their power to correct it and make it a better playing surface for next season,” he said.
“We had a real heavy downpour in Newport the other day and I went on the pitch afterwards and it was dry so I’m very hopeful that we’ve cured the problem.”