Scunthorpe United Manager Nigel Adkins will lead his team into the new Football League campaign with confidence high at Glanford Park after the club's npower Championship status was maintained against the odds last term.
Two seasons earlier, in what was the club's first ever campaign at this level, the Iron were relegated - just as the pundits had predicted. But they bounced back immediately to clinch a second promotion in three years, and this time they deservedly kept their Championship place - just as the pundits had NOT predicted!
"In many people's eyes," said Adkins, "it was a fantastic achievement for us to stay up given the resources we have at the club. But we always believed we could do it.
"We knew we would have some poor results along the way, but we stuck together and had a tremendous group mentality. The players played for each other throughout the season to achieve a common goal and in the end we achieved it."
Adkins has been re-shaping his squad following the departures of striker Paul Hayes, left back Marcus Williams and midfielders Grant McCann and Matt Sparrow, while there is continuing speculation about a move for star striker Gary Hooper.
The Manager said: "The players who've left had been magnificent for us but they've gone for greater financial deals than we can offer. The situation with Gary is that there's been speculation all summer but credit to him, he's got his head down, he's training with a smile on his face and he's being very respectful to Scunthorpe United.
"One telephone call could change everything, but all we can do is control the controllables and that's what we'll continue to do."
If former Southend United player Hooper does depart it will be a big money move akin to those made by previous Scunthorpe strikers Billy Sharp, Andy Keogh and Martin Paterson, all of whom - like Hooper - were signed for bargain fees but then sold on at a huge profit for the club.
Adkins is now hoping that his latest striking acquisition, Chris Dagnall - signed last month from Rochdale - will prove as successful as his predecessors at Glanford Park on what is proving to be a conveyor belt of unearthed goalscoring talent.
As well as signing Dagnall to strengthen his front line Adkins has brought in midfielders Michael Collins and Bobby Grant, from Huddersfield Town and Accrington Stanley respectively, plus - on six-month loan deals - defenders Eddie Nolan (Preston North End) and Jim McNulty (Brighton).
Other signings could follow as the Manager strives to produce a squad that will not only keep Scunthorpe in the Championship but that can also push the club on to becoming an established name at that level.
And although he admits that it will be another tough season, Adkins maintains the rock-solid belief that saw the Iron survive last term.
"We were favourites for relegation last season," he noted, "and we'll be clear favourites again this time. But we'll aim to build on what we did last season, to keep on playing good football, to keep improving and to be the very best we can be."
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