Paul Ince is desperate to bring some good news to Seasiders supporters this week, admitting the club faces a “tough, tough season” unless they get the right players in quickly.
The manager and his threadbare squad return to Squires Gate today after their training camp in Portugal, and Ince expects to run the rule over a large number of triallists as he faces “the biggest rebuilding job” of his managerial career.
With only 13 senior players, including son Tom for whom Cardiff have had a cash offer accepted, Ince says he has been on the phone constantly in his anxiety to complete his first summer signing.
The manager, who held further talks with chairman Karl Oyston yesterday, said: “We’re trying our best to bring in quality players. There just hasn’t been any good news coming out of Blackpool, and we just want some for the supporters. “I want to put a team out that’s going to be competitive in what is a very very hard Championship. I think it’s going to be even harder this year than last, and if we don’t get the right players in I think it will be a tough, tough season for us.
“We were very close to going down last season and people have to realise how close we were. We need a reality check and to ask where we are going to go this season.
“We have to be competitive because every other team is and every other team is buying players, but we don’t have anyone yet and that’s not right.”
Ince maintains he has a “fantastic” relationship with chairman Oyston but accepts he will not be allowed to offer the transfer fees and wages that some of his Championship rivals lavish on players.
Ince said: “We aren’t going to compete with the Boltons, Leicesters and QPRs financially and we have to be realistic and honest with the fans.
“We can’t compete with the money they are spending, but if we can be organised and get the right characters in and motivate them to give me that extra bit more, we will have half a chance.”
But the manager realises time is not on his side, adding: “You can imagine all the agents are throwing players at us left right and centre. It’s not right for me and it’s not great preparation, it really isn’t.
“It’s something we need to look at for the future and to start looking at (signing) players on a longer-term basis so we can have some stability at the club and don’t get into this situation again.”
The lack of personnel prevented Ince getting through the work he would have liked in Portugual.
He said: “We had seven kids there. When you go to a place like that, you want players to blend and you like to think you will have your whole squad and that you can work on team shape, patterns of play and all the stuff you should be working on, but you can’t and that’s the frustrating thing for me.
“Now we have to try to bring seven or eight players in in three or four weeks and try to get them used to the way we play. That will take time but we just have to get on with it.”
Ince says he would prefer to assess a large number of trialists this week rather than having a steady procession over the next few weeks.
“You’ll probably see eight or nine at Squires Gate on Tuesday, so we’ll need to fix up a game for them, he said.
“Whether I do that on Saturday (when Pool play their first friendly at Penrith) I don’t know.”