Pat McGibbon’s tumultuous tenure in the Portadown hot-seat reverted to a degree of welcome normality this week with the first pre-season session of his Shamrock Park management era.
The former Northern Ireland international replaced Ronnie McFall in March and has had to deal with numerous off-the-field issues relating to player unrest and investigations into the club’s wage policy alongside a relegation battle settled on the final day of the season.
However, McGibbon introduced a clean slate for Tuesday’s first pre-season workout and is keen to focus on the future rather than remain rooted in past problems.
“Already you can notice a fresh approach by everyone and a desire to move forward,” said McGibbon. “We have had some players moving on and others coming in since the end of the season and that will continue.
“With a number of fresh faces you obviously need to quickly build team spirit but we have plans in place to really get the most out of the summer months.
“We had a big group out at Kernan for this week’s first session and the lads will be in four times next week.
“The idea is to build up as much match fitness as possible in the legs, across as many as possible.
“The friendly games will be about fitness first then we look at shape closer to the start of the Irish League.
“It was a frustration when I came in as caretaker boss last season to see us struggle late on in so many games, especially in those early fixtures.
“The opposition is largely irrelevant at this stage, it is about what we put into those friendly games and training sessions to get the foundations in place.
“You want to hit the ground running once the Irish League starts and we have a few weeks to work towards that together.
“We want the players to express individual strengths as well as training hard as a group.”