WITH one Great Escape bid narrowly failing less than two years ago, Chester City have launched another this week and this time it has to succeed.
Mark Wright, the most distinguished ex-player to occupy the manager's chair, has accepted the job of trying to lead the Blues to Conference safety - and he won't be short of boardroom support.
"The harsh reaility is that we won't be around next season if we don't act on the manager's recommendations," warned club owner Stephen Vaughan.
"He says he wants at least five new players so we will have to try to get them, but it will mean some cost-cutting."
Wright, a 38-year-old former captain of England, was merely an observer as City were beaten at home by Northwich Vics on Tuesday, but he was blunt in his appraisal of the job he has inherited - and he has warned the way up could be a rough ride.
"The chairman's come in to try and turn things around and he's going to put money into the club," he said. "Unfortunately, there are a lot of unfit players - a lot of people who may have taken things for granted. That may sound harsh, but when we came here with Southport last season they were a good side with good players. They are still good players, but they have let themselves go. That's personal pride.
"To turn things round there has to be at least five players to come in now, and that's on the conservative side. It has to be done now and the chairman is set to do it. It has to be addressed, and quickly, otherwise they leave themselves with a very uphill task."
High on Wright's wanted list are Telford central defender Jim Bentley and the two players he took from Southport to Oxford, Phil Bolland and Scott Guyett. But anyone signed this week would not be eligible for tomorrow's FA Umbro Trophy match against Stourport Swifts.
Wright, who allowed caretakers Alan Lewer and Owen Brown to run the team from the touchline again, admitted: "I was shocked by what I saw. They didn't have a proper pre-season, so maybe that's being a little unfair, but fitness-wise they have to improve.
"All of a sudden you run out of games, so we need to bring in players now - that's the only way you can do it.
"It is always more difficult to bring players in when a side is not doing well. If you are doing well everyone wants to come. We have to bring in players who are proven at this level.
"It's one thing us having a hit-list of players we want to bring in, but it is another trying to persuade them to come, so the job is going to be very difficult.
"I have players in mind and have made contact with a few clubs. And although we have been turned down by one, I am optimistic on two or three.
"I feel sorry for some of the players. I think they have been let down by the people who were here previously. Their fitness levels are very, very bad and for a part-time outfit like Northwich to out-run a full-time side in the last 10 to 15 minutes is not right.
"Asked what attracted him to Chester, he replied: "The chairman. He's brilliant. He said they were down and struggling, but I couldn't believe that to be perfectly honest.
"When they came up to Haig Avenue when I was there, they were the only side to give us a hiding and there were a lot of them out there (against Vics) who played in that game.
"It's confidence, organisation - it's everything. From now on it's going to be made very tough for them. They have to understand what is required.
"At times they played very well against Northwich, but it was fits and starts. The first goal was diabolical and the second was worse."
Wright may decide to step back again for tomorrow's Trophy match.
"I haven't seen enough of this team, so I can't give an opinion of what should be done on Saturday," he said.
"I may have to leave that to Alan Lewer and Owen Brown.
"I am not over-concerned about the cup. It may be some glory for the fans, but you pick up bookings and injuries and suspensions, and that wouldn't be good for the football club. I honestly think we have to look for league results and league results alone.
"I need to have another look at them in a game situation and then we have the game the following week against Barnet and, not being disrespectful to Northwich, Barnet are a much better side than them, so we have our work cut out."