Peter Murphy believes Annan Athletic are in a better position to progress than after their previous play-off near-miss.
The Galabank club are facing up to another campaign in Scottish League Two after narrowly missing out on promotion.
But manager Murphy says he does not anticipate the sort of wholesale rebuild he has faced in the past.
And he says Annan’s positive 2021/22 campaign should fill the players with belief that they can go one better next time.
“One thing I’d say is we’re in a lot better position than the last time we were in the play-offs , in that we have 11-12 players committed for next year,” Murphy said.
“It’s up to me now to replace the likes of Owen Moxon [who has joined Carlisle United], which will be very difficult to do, but we need to bring in players that will keep us up and around that top end of the table.
“Before it was a rebuild where I lost a lot of players and it was a case of getting more in who had to learn about how you work, and it can take a period of two or three years for things to fully progress.
“Hopefully with keeping that amount of players now, it won’t take as long for the new players to know what we want.”
Annan spent most of the season in the promotion race and ended up in the play-offs, where they got past Forfar Athletic only to fall to Edinburgh City in a two-legged final.
The Galabankies were denied by an inspired goalkeeping performance from Edinburgh’s Brian Schwake in the second leg, which dashed their promotion dream.
Former Carlisle United favourite Murphy, who has been in charge at Annan for five years, says his players should have the mindset that they can continue to compete among their division’s frontrunners.
— Annan Athletic FC (@AnnanAthleticFC) May 27, 2022
“I’ve talked many times about belief and confidence, and it’s a massive part of the game.
“The players will believe they probably should have done better, bar a goalkeeping performance that was outstanding.
“It’s a case of trying to keep the momentum going. It will be difficult, because other clubs will be aware of us, but that’s a challenge you always face in football.
“We’re looking forward already to next season, but my players will take a lot of heart from how they played [in 2021/22], against the likes of Rangers, the cup run they had, and the league season.
“Hopefully I’m not having to drum it into them too much that they are a good side and can believe in themselves.
“We’re always up against it financially, so it’s about getting the right players in, and getting the best out of them to overachieve slightly.”
Annan were this week drawn into Group F of the Premier Sports Cup, and will face St Johnstone, Ayr United, Queen of the South and Elgin City.