Today may well be the day that the challenge for promotion began...again.
The Blues have a new head coach in Keith Long and with the first five games of the season now behind them, the room for error gets smaller and smaller.
A ten-point gap has formed between Waterford and the table-topping Galway, with the Tribesmen unbeaten so far in the league. John Caulfield's side have picked up six wins in six games and as it stands, look to be the odds-on favorites for automatic promotion back to the Premier Division.
Long gave his first press conference this afternoon at the SETU Arena, saying that the club and its owners are "ambitious for the city of Waterford, ambitious for Waterford FC, they want the club to get promoted and not just be sustainable in the Premier League, but to try and maybe challenge for European positions."
The owner Andy Pilley sat alongside Long, adding that "this is going to be a long journey." Pilley made it clear that from day one he has always said this was a long-term project and not a flash in the pan. He said he hopes that the appointment of Long will be a step towards attaining the "stability" he spoke of last summer when purchasing the club.
"When I look at Keith's CV, it just spells out stability," said Pilley. Adding, "in his previous role he was there for so long and he delivered incredibly well. To me that's very much what I want, it's what Keith wants as well, he wants to be with the club long term rather than short term. Yeah, that's what we're looking for and I see no reason why we won't be a success"
The Previous Manager
On the departure of Danny Searle, Pilley would not be drawn on the specifics as to why the Londoner lost his job, saying "I don't like the process of changing manager. I've got nothing but good things to say about the previous manager, but sometimes when you are in my position you have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the football club."
The owner continued to say that "ultimately when you are the owner of a football club - just like a manager - you've got big calls to make. You can not get involved in any club unless you are prepared to make those big calls. That's why I made the decision on Monday; sometimes you may feel like you just need a different voice in the dressing room. That's not to say that Danny had done anything specifically wrong - he's been a pleasure to work it, he's been first-class as an individual and a football manager. That was my decision to make and I subsequently decided to go in that direction."
The Backroom Team
It was reported on Friday morning that Alan Reynolds was set to take up an assistant coaching role with Long. Reynolds, who previously managed the Blues to First Division success, is currently assistant coach to Ruaidhrí Higgins in Derry - who make the trip to face Shels this evening.
Neither Pilley, Long nor a club spokesman would confirm the singing of Reynolds, but Long did say that "the club have given me a blank canvas in that regard [who his backroom team will be]. It will be my decision who I bring in and it will be my decision if any of the coaches were to move on from the club. I have to assess the situation as things currently stand and I can't do that after one day. I'm very respectful of the job that these boys have done so far - as I said, Gary Hunt, David Breen and Brian Murphy, great fellas and we've got to be very respectful of what we need to do with the football club. We'll make any changes if and when necessary."
The Immediate Future
While fans may want certainty as to what the future holds for the Blues, neither Long nor Pilley were keen to focus on what's to come down the road, preferring to stay in the moment, with a game to focus on this evening.
"What's important now is tonight," said Long, who has signed a 3-year deal with the club. "Hopefully we can achieve our goal, win the game, send the supporters home happy and give them something to cheer about."