Eddie Patterson in the mood for more glory days at the Oval
Eddie Patterson has warned Glentoran's rivals that the east-Belfast giants will pack a big punch this season.
The Glens boss returns from a holiday in Portugal today ready to roll his sleeves up and go to work tomorrow, starting with a long trip to Coleraine.
Two Irish Cup victories in three seasons is a stunning achievement, particularly for a club which has had to wrestle with financial headaches.
The league title, while the ultimate goal, could prove to be a bridge too far again but that won't stop Patterson and his men from dreaming. It promises to be another rollercoaster ride on Mersey Street but one thing is certain - the Glens will roll over for no one.
"You are always striving for improvement and I'm hopeful the boys are a lot more mature and have learned a lot from their European experience and from any mistakes we made last season," said Patterson.
"Some of the lads are young but we demand a certain standard in the first team and it's important we keep making progress.
"I would have liked to have brought in a few more players but we couldn't compete financially with Crusaders in the race for players such as Andy Mitchell and Michael Carvill. The Crues were confident of securing European funding and they did their business early.
"The Irish Cup success and European football was a huge reward for us but we will be striving to improve on our sixth-placed finish. The players are a lot more experienced in this league and they understand this is a club that wants to be challenging for league titles.
"As events at Crusaders have reminded us, it can take time for a club to be in a position to challenge for the title so we will be as competitive as we can and hopefully a few more trophies will be coming to The Oval."
Glentoran's star man Jordan Stewart was frustrated to miss out on a cross-channel switch to Barnsley after the League One club's bid for the 20-year-old was rejected. That episode, combined with a two-week suspension for playing for another side in a friendly, was a distraction the winger didn't need with the season about to start but he remains a young player with the world at his feet and his solitary strike saw the Glens pip Crusaders to the NI Hospice Charity Shield.
Stewart said: "I think we can be optimistic of having another great season. People can say what they like about our squad but in my opinion we have good players here and we will be strong. I'm expecting us to push on and challenge for trophies again."
JBE Mechanical Electrical are the new sponsors of the League Cup for the 2015/16 season.
The JBE League Cup kicks off with first round fixtures on Tuesday, August 18 and represents a significant investment in the game by the Ballymena-based company.
First round draw: Banbridge Town v Armagh City (6.45pm); Portstewart v Knockbreda (6.45pm); Sport & Leisure v Queen's University (6.45pm); Tobermore United v Newington FC (6.45pm); Larne v Loughgall (7.45pm); Glebe Rangers v Coagh United (7.45pm); Moyola Park v Donegal Celtic (7.45pm); Ballyclare Comrades v Wakehurst (7.45pm).
Byes: Dergview, Dundela, Lurgan Celtic, Limavady United, Lisburn Distillery, Annagh United, PSNI, Dollingstown.
Manager: Eddie Patterson
Captain: Stephen McAlorum
Key Man: Curtis Allen
Big arrival: Conor McMenamin
Last season: Sixth in Premiership and Irish Cup winners
Big loss: None of any importance
Ins: Kristian Gibson (Rangers), Conor McMenamin (Linfield)
Outs: Mark Hillen (Cliftonville), Matty Kerr (Dundela), Sandy McDermott (Ballyclare Comrades), Colly Smith (Dundela)
Verdict: Should compete for Europe and an outside chance of the title if they keep their top players fit