Ronnie McFall has claimed that his squad is an amazing five players short of mounting a serious challenge for the Carling Premiership title.
The Shamrock Park boss has added just two players to his first-team panel since returning to the top flight after a season spent in the Irish FA Championship.
And he is ruling out a first Gibson Cup success for the club since 2002.
“We’ll be competitive, but as far as winning the league goes, no, we don’t have the squad,” said McFall, who will look to build on Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Linfield at Windsor Park when Cliftonville head down the M1 this evening.
“I always thought we would be competitive and I haven’t seen anything to fear in this league.
“Last year we signed players to get us out of the Championship and we did that.
“When we got up we knew that we needed to sign more players to bring us back up to Premiership standard.
“I was looking for six or seven players to build up the squad. We got Darren Kelly and Neil Teggart in early, but the financial climate has meant that we haven’t been able to sign anyone else.”
McFall has brought former Scotland under-21 international Sean Mackle to the club recently, but it remains to be seen if he makes it into the first-team, with fitness problems delaying his debut since signing a fortnight ago.
The Ports have become the Premiership’s draw specialists with Saturday’s tie against the Blues being the fourth time in eight games that they have shared the spoils.
Cliftonville cracked home five without reply against struggling Lisburn Distillery and are now unbeaten in their last three league outings.