If Boston United are serious about winning promotion then they’ll have to do it the hard way - Carl Piergianni was warned.
The Pilgrims defender reckons that last season’s third-placed finish will only make the club’s National League North’s rivals even more determined to take points from them.
But becoming one of the teams to beat in the division it is also a pressure that Piergianni believes will bring the best out of the squad.
“This season will be tougher than any before,” the 23-year-old said.
“We’ve always been in and around the play-offs, but maybe we overachieved a little bit last season thanks to our fantastic run. Now people will be expecting us to be up there and challenging this season.
“It’s an added pressure for us, but something we’ll all look forward to.
“We finished last season 12-games unbeaten for that reason, because when the pressure’s on it brings out the best in us.”
The Pilgrims are fortunate that Piergianni refuses to buckle when the going gets tough, because being named in the Conference North’s Team of the Year for the second consecutive season and walking off with United’s Player of the Year trophy means unrelenting high standards will be demanded from the former Peterborough United and Stockport County man.
But once again, expectations won’t weight heavily on the centre back’s shoulders.
Instead, he says he will use his experiences to help improve his game.
“On a personal level I feel that people expect me to do well every game now,” he said.
“I’ve just got to be myself and play my game, like I always have done.
“If I don’t overcomplicate things and stay fit and strong then hopefully I can keep improving.”
Piergianni was openly critical of some of his early performances last season, admitting that slotting into university life meant football was no-longer his only focus.
However, he remains adamant that his spare time will be devoted to pushing himself to become a better athlete.
“We all really do look after ourselves,” Piergianni added.
“We may be a part time team but everyone in the squad works really hard to keep in shape and live our lives properly.
“We’ve got ambitions of playing at higher level and to get there we’ve got to act professionally.”