Southport striving for success the Wright way

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The Independent Football

Southport are, according to some observers, "dark horses" to win the Nationwide Conference title this season - but their manager, Mark Wright, believes it is no longer possible for a part-time club to emulate Kidderminster Harriers' feat last term and claim the championship.

Southport are, according to some observers, "dark horses" to win the Nationwide Conference title this season - but their manager, Mark Wright, believes it is no longer possible for a part-time club to emulate Kidderminster Harriers' feat last term and claim the championship.

Wright, the former Liverpool and England defender who is in his first full season as a manager, is in little doubt about the likely destination of the title. "Rushden & Diamonds may get a bit carried away with all their publicity," he says, "but if Brian Talbot [the league leaders' manager] keeps his squad on their toes they'll come out on top.

"If they get injuries they can go out and buy someone else. Part-time sides just can't compete with that. We're doing our best but Rushden have got too much strength in depth. I don't think there are too many sides that can get near them."

Wright is realistic about Southport's hopes of a return to the Football League, from which they were voted out in 1978. "When I came here [half way through last season] we were second from bottom," he says. "We finished ninth. We did well but, with more and more full-time sides in this league, we'll do well to finish in the top eight or ten this term."

Despite a daunting start to their schedule, with seven of their first eight matches against full-time teams, Southport lie in sixth place. "We've got a lot of new players and our realistic aim has to be consolidation in the top half of the table," Wright adds. "Next season, when maybe there will be two sides going up, we can aim higher."

Wright knows that Southport are not ready to join Telford and Yeovil, who made the switch to full-time football this summer. "Our chairman [Charles Clapham] has done a great job," he insists. "He took over when this football club was down and out, and he's turned things round and made the club viable so that the Southport public can watch football week in, week out. He won't let me spend money the club can't afford."

Wright is sure that he made the right decision to start his coaching career at this level, rather than seek a back-room job with a bigger club. "I'm my own man and you have to give it a go and make a name for yourself," he insists.

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