Morecambe boss Jim Bentley believes staying in the Football League is an “unbelievable achievement” for the Shrimps.
The Wembley-winning captain’s side went from an outside bet for the League 2 play-offs to only securing safety in the penultimate game of the season.
But Bentley still maintains survival is success for one of the smallest clubs in the division. “It’s been hard work but the players have given their all so I can’t ask for any more than that,” said the 37-year-old.
“They can be proud of themselves and I’m sure the fans are proud of their efforts.
“There’ll always be one per cent of fans who say it’s not good enough to just survive but we’re on the smallest clubs in the league and first and foremost we wanted to get safe.
“It’s not all doom and gloom if you look at the season as a whole we were more than good enough in the first half but we haven’t been good enough in the second half.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs and you always back yourself to get further up the league but it’s a very tough division with bigger clubs than ourselves.
“So overall, we should have and could have done better but we’re still a Football League club which is an unbelievable achievement.”
Bentley is still relatively inexperienced as a manager and knows his third season in the Globe Arena hotseat is the one where he’s learnt the most.
“Player wise some of them have had the experience at other clubs but it’s the first time as a manager I’ve been in a real battle at the bottom,” he said.
“It’s been very stressful but I’ve been positive and upbeat.
“I’ve learnt a lot about myself, a lot about the game, and I only think that’s going to make me a better manager in the years to come.
“You’ve got to learn how to deal with all aspects of winning and losing games of football and I’ve learnt more in the season than I have in the previous seasons.”
One constant of Bentley’s time in charge has been his side’s frustrating decline in the second half of the season after largely bright starts.
He knows it is a conundrum that needs to be solved.
“I think pre-season’s been great over the last three seasons,” the Shrimps boss said.
“We’ve always started well and had a good cup win and get into the top six or seven in the league.
“One season we got to top and this season we were top at half time against Wimbledon.
“I wouldn’t change pre-season but we’re exploring all kinds of different things regarding our training and preparation and what we can do around Christmas that will hopefully make us a better team in the second half of the season.
“That’s been our downfall over the last three seasons and needs addressing.”
That cause may be helped by news that new investment means Bentley is set to work with an increased playing budget next season having seen a quarter of a million pounds cut from it last summer.
The Shrimps boss believes more money in his pocket could lead to the club achieving their Holy Grail - bigger Globe Arena crowds.
“It was disappointing (last summer) because I thought I had the nucleus of a good squad and we had a considerable cutback,” Bentley said.
“But we’ve got an honest chairman (Peter McGuigan) who’s bankrolled the club for years.
“He’s built a new stadium and it’s his and the directors’ money that they keep throwing at it but we haven’t had enough bums on seats.
“If it doesn’t match up with your figures then something’s got to give, It’s not just the playing side, all over the club there’s been cutbacks.
“Hopefully we’re closer to running self sufficiently but you can’t just expect people to keep throwing money at it like the chairman has.
“He’s been an unbelievable find for the club over the years but there’s a point where you want a little bit back from the public.
“They’ve explored all avenues with regards to revenue and there’s some positive signs and the future looks a little bit brighter.
“More money on the pitch could translate into winning more games which would go hand in hand with bums on seats.”