Mannus: Rovers pressure all from within
As the only man in the Shamrock Rovers dressing room to have won a league medal with that club, goalkeeper Alan Mannus does not need to be given a lecture about the desire among Hoops supporters to have the sight of trophies again.
And as Rovers begin the 2019 season tipped as one of the sides best placed to challenge and wrestle the crown away from Dundalk, Mannus insists that the squad can cope with the demands of success.
Now 36, Mannus won the Premier Division in his only full season with the Hoops (2010), though he also earned a medal for the follow-up title success in 2011 even though he left for Scotland midway through the campaign.
Rovers haven't won a major trophy since then and as a veteran, Mannus understands why the squad are expected to deliver.
"There is an expectation here to win things, as players we know that's what everyone at this club wants and as a squad we are working towards that. But the main aim is to improve on last season and see how we get on, everyone is aware of what's expected," Mannus told The Herald ahead of the season kick-off tonight, Rovers away to Waterford.
"There is expectation at the club, but it's also there from within the squad, all we can do is our best and see how we get on over the season. There are good teams in the league but we are a good team as well."
Dundalk were best of all last season, as they finished top of the table, but there is hope that the 2019 campaign will be more open, more balanced, though Rovers manager Stephen Bradley admits his side need to do more.
"We can talk all night or all week about it, at the end of the day Dundalk and Cork did their business last year and we all have to step up to the mark," says Bradley.
"This year is the same, Cork will be right up there with Dundalk and it's up to the rest of us to get up with them and make it competitive because to be fair to the two of them, they have driven standards over the last few years."
With Dundalk expected to regain their title, Rovers are being listed as second or third favourites for the league, but Mannus is not bothered.
"I don't bet so I don't look at what the bookies have to say. I don't care what they say about the season or what people outside think, we just want to improve on last season. We had a good run at the end of last year and we want to keep that going into this season.
"Keep on from where we left off and see where we finish up at the end of the year," Mannus added.
"It has been a long off-season, the longest I have had in my career in terms of a gap between seasons.
"For the last few weeks of pre-season, you just want the season to begin, so we are ready," Mannus added, eager for a return tonight to the RSC.
"Waterford away is a tough place to start, I had my first game for Rovers, since I came back to the club, away to Waterford last year.
"We won 1-0 so that was a good day for me and for the team, but it was a hard game as they made it very tough for us and this sason will be the same. They can be very dangerous, we have worked hard over pre-season and now it's time to get going."