Portadown manager Niall Currie has come out fighting following the club’s relegation from senior football.
Currie left Ards last December to take up the job at his basement-based hometown club - with defeat to his former side on Tuesday bringing to a close the season-long battle to beat the drop.
The Ports’ campaign has been dominated by off-the-field issues including Irish Football Association-imposed fines, points deductions and a transfer embargo.
Currie’s management era has returned 14 points from 17 Danske Bank Premiership dates but he maintains the building blocks remain in place for a bright future and is relishing the increased pressure of next season’s Championship challenge.
“For a variety of reasons I have not had a consistent side on the pitch and especially suffered due to unavailability of our senior players,” said Currie. “With so many problems outside my control, in many ways it has been about trying to be a football manager with one arm tied behind my back so far.
“But I am just looking forward to the summer and a rebuilding process that means we go into next season with my own squad.
“I am confident the behind-the-scenes work going on has ensured we are going to be together and in a much better place by this summer.
“I know the pressure is now on to deliver in the Championship as we go down as still a massive club and with financial backing from the directors.
“But I want that responsibility and cannot wait to start the job of assembling a squad to get us back up.
“Next season is when people can really judge me as a manager.
“The fanbase is special and the supporters proved that again with the amazing backing they gave us on Tuesday.
“The progress of the teenagers this season offers an exciting future.
“We want to continue the positive momentum of the past few performances into the final two games, starting this weekend at Glentoran.
“I am very proud to be manager of this club and so excited about the bigger picture.”