THE start of the Championship season is now tantalisingly close and as usual the pundits and fans have gone into overdrive with their predictions.

For every surprise call you might read online or hear in the pub, somethings never change.

While most in the Wee County will not be shocked to hear, Alloa are being pipped to finish dead last – even below newbies Arbroath in some cases.

We all know how that ended last season when the Wasps left the experts with egg on their face by securing survival ahead of full-time Falkirk and Queen of the South.

But, when asked about his aims for the season and how he expects his new charges to get on, Peter Grant barely blinks in his reply.

"If you want to replicate last season, we will stay in the league," the Celtic legend says. "But I said in the first interview I did that at the start of the season everyone's the same.

"We are up there to challenge and whether it's to win the league or be in the play-offs. We don't just want to survive and survive.

"There's the players that can play and we have talented boys who can play. Yes, there's things we can iron out, but as I say Jim (Goodwin) left a talented side here.

"Hopefully, we can build on that and be better. I am still trying to bring three or four in and if we can do that and be better and make the group stronger then I think that's very important."

Giving their part-time status, shoestring budget, and relatively modest following, many will raise eyebrows at Grant's suggestion that Alloa can better the riches of the Dundee giants or even Partick Thistle.

However, the 53-year-old knows he has inherited a talented squad which proved itself time and time again last season.

"You can make excuses," he continues. "But players these days have got their jobs and that's the hardest part of their lives; providing for their families.

"But they are professional footballers. They aren't just footballers on a Tuesday, a Thursday, and a Saturday. They've got to live like professional footballers seven days a week. They have to give it their maximum and we expect that.

"We've got to be as professional as we possibly can and the boys have been fantastic since the day I came in. That's credit to the guys who have gone before me. They've set that standard."

The former Norwich manager – who also took charge of Fulham on a temporary basis – has wasted little time in stamping his authority on the squad, changing from Goodwin's 4-2-3-1 system to a 4-3-1-2 and moving club legend Kevin Cawley into a central midfield berth.

It's all part of his plan to bring a new fluidity to the Wee County side and it showed signs of bearing fruit in Saturday's Betfred Cup win over Arbroath.

Grant added: "He (Cawley) couldn't see the ball well and I think it's important as he's a good player and I didn't want him out on the touchline waiting for the game to come to him.

"I want him to be involved in the game and that's what I want from our wide players.

"As a team, they've got to defend together and they've got to attack together and I have seen too many times that players just stand out on the line doing nothing.

"Kevin's got too much ability to be doing that and I think he's had a big effect on every game he's played in.

"He's getting better and better and he's a great team player and a talented individual as well."