You get a refreshing sense of realism when speaking to Blues boss Simon Garner.
But, as impressive as Clitheroe’s season has been in the Evo-Stik First Division North to date, there’s a definite undertone that suggests a mid-table finish isn’t the height of his ambition. Not in the future anyway.
The signs of progression under Garner’s stewardship at Shawbridge are blatant. With 19 games remaining the club is just 11 points away from equalling last term’s tally, and they’ve already trebled the number of wins accrued on the road.
A top 10 finish would realistically signal a resounding campaign for the Blues, but Garner’s first full season in management is understandably fuelling the fire for further success.
And to start proceedings - despite accumulating nine points from four games over the Christmas period - Garner is demanding more consistency. “There’s a great mentality in the squad but I still want us to build more consistency. The most consecutive games we’ve won is four so we need to improve on that if we don’t want to hover in the middle.
“It’s a challenge but they’re capable of doing it. If you manage to hit the six successive wins mark then you’ll climb. We are bang in the middle and we’ve got to be happy with that at just over the halfway point though.
“We’ve conceded in the last minute in six games and that’s cost us too. We know we can improve on that front.”
Garner has given his side an outside chance of reaching the play-offs this term, but he feels he’s built a squad that is more than capable of challenging in the near future.
“If I’m totally honest I could rhyme about eight teams that will finish above us this season,” he said, ahead of Saturday’s home game against fourth place Droylsden.
“I’m just being realistic because we’ve got a lot of points to claw back if we’re to break in to it. There’s a lot of massive clubs in the division and many have played at a higher standard.
“I want to finish as high as possible and to get anywhere near the play-offs would be a great achievement. It would be great to finish in the top half of the table in my first full season in management though.
“Hopefully we can keep the squad together in the summer and have a go at it next year. I’m really happy with how we’ve progressed and we’ll keep looking up. I’d be delighted with a top 10 finish.”