Musselburgh Athletic boss Calvin Shand is relishing a new challenge in the Premier League this season, but he’s determined to get the Olivebank club back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
Burgh were relegated after an eight-year stay in the Super League last season and go into the new campaign as second favourites behind East Lothian rivals Tranent, who head into the new season buoyant after two cup triumphs.
All four East Lothian clubs will compete in the Premier League this term with Dunbar United, promoted from the South Division last season, joining Haddington Athletic.
“There is going to be a lot of local wee derbies there and we know we’ll be one of the favourites [for the title],” said Shand.
“For a lot of teams it will be like a cup final playing against us, so we’ll need to be at our best all the time.
“The club don’t want to be there, but everybody is embracing it and looking forward to it. The supporters have been really supportive of us and in terms of the club we are going in the right direction.
“You can be favourites or you can’t be favourites, it’s what you do on a Saturday really. There is pressure on us to go back up. There will be pressure on every team, for the likes of Tranent, they won two cups last season, so how do they improve on that?
“I don’t think we’ll be the only teams battling, I think there will be a lot of teams that are there or thereabouts. Tayport, who we have on Saturday, will be right up there, I think they’ll be one of the stronger teams, so that’ll give us a gauge of where we are from day one.”
Shand has been able to retain the bulk of last season’s squad, who have opted to stick around and make up for last season’s disappointment.
He added: “It’s really pleasing to keep the majority of last season’s squad. The guys deserve a bit of credit for that, their attitude has been brilliant. We haven’t added too much, but we added players towards the end of last season and they are all like new signings after a full pre-season.
“We’re in a good place the now and we’re certainly over the disappointment of last season.”