RICHARD Pears has warned his Exmouth Town players that he is not afraid to make serious changes to his squad – despite their league campaign kicking off on Saturday.
The Exmouth boss' comments come after Town were humbled 4-1 by Peninsula League Division One West champions Godolphin Atlantic in the Charity Vase final on Sunday.
That result – which saw Carl Rickard score Town's only goal – rounded off a mixed series of pre-season results, including a 5-1 win over St Martins and a heavy 6-0 defeat to Bideford.
And with Exmouth travelling to Tavistock on Saturday, Pears says something has to change.
"I'm looking at both the players and the formation," said Pears. "I want to do well this season and I want players who are good enough to do that.
"What I will not accept is us being an average team just going through the motions."
Having conceded heavily to the likes of Bideford, Godolphin and Weymouth, Pears is looking to bolster his defence – preferably with two more defenders.
A right-sided attacking player could also be added as he looks to increase their creativity, although Pears conceded his side were outplayed in every department against Godolphin.
"We were simply outplayed," he said. "They were better than us technically, they were more comfortable on the ball, they played better than us and deserved to win.
"I have said in the past that we are supposed to be fighting for the league, but if we defend like that then we will be fighting relegation.
"Okay, it was a Sunday-morning match for a charity event, but it was still a trophy to win for the club.
"I would say 90 per cent of the team under-performed. Carl Rickard was the only player who was outstanding on the day.
"We had a frank exchange of views in the changing rooms afterwards which you need, because performances like that are unacceptable.
"Godolphin just played a normal 4-4-2 and I had pretty much my strongest side out – I was only missing one player – and they were much better than us."
Meanwhile, Elmore boss Pete Buckingham thinks his side could surprise some people this season, with their campaign starting at home to Launceston on Saturday.
Jesse Howe is their main signing to replace Bovey Tracey-bound Tom Kelly, although Troy Membury has also arrived and key striker James Blake has committed himself to the club.
"I think that, when I have my full squad out, we will surprise a few people," said Buckingham. "The core of my team is very young. Pike is 20, Skinner is 20, Tricker is 20, Steve Harris is 21, the keeper is 21, Jesse Howe is 20. Only Brett Worbey, Danny Tapp, Steve Harris and Matt Harvey are senior members in the side, although they will form the core of the team. They will be very important considering what a young side we are going to have this season."
Bovey Tracey boss Ryan German says he will have nothing to prove when his side come up against former club Elmore in 10 days' time.
German – who wants a top-eight finish – left Elmore a year ago citing a clash in philosophies with Buckingham.
The Moorlanders kick the division off on Friday at home to Torpoint Athletic, and German says the August 17 clash with Elmore is just another game.
"I don't have a point to prove against Elmore because there is nothing to prove in my mind," said German, who has signed Frazer Clark, Lee Smyth and former Eagle Tom Kelly.
"I say this with the greatest respect to Elmore, but there are bigger teams to worry about in the league.
"We face Elburton Villa, Plymouth Parkway and Bodmin Town in the first few weeks, so if we can make it out of those games only dropping a point or two then I'll be happy."
Cullompton Rangers manager Mike Taylor has called for patience for his young side.
Cully host Ivybridge Town with new signing Jeff Sanders their oldest player at 27.
"We have a lot of new faces. I have a young team this year, which means we can grow as a group and as a team," said Taylor, whose side lost 8-0 to Willand Rovers on Friday, despite trailing 1-0 at half-time.
"We have kept the majority of the players but added real quality where we have needed it. The likes of Luke Skinner, Joe Pryce and Jeff Sanders have all come in and it is very exciting.
"If we can manage 12th or so and then keep the majority of the team together for the following season I'd be happy."
Anywhere in the top 10 would be a result for Witheridge according to manager Chris Vinnicombe, despite finishing a record seventh-placed finish last season.
Vinnicombe's men visit champions Bodmin Town, and he knows improving on that will be no easy task.
"We start with the same targets pretty much every year and that is to end up in the top 10 – that is a decent target for any team," he said.
"Last year anything above 10th was a bonus because we had never finished that high before and we managed to finish seventh.
"If we could finish seventh or higher or get more points then that would obviously be brilliant, but I don't set major targets like a top-two finish or a top-five finish because I think it puts too much pressure on the players to perform."