IAN McCall insists that Partick Thistle must aim high when the new Championship season gets under way in a couple of months’ time – adding that he is refusing to overlook the prospect of back-to-back promotions.

The Jags wrapped up the League One title in emphatic fashion last month with a thrilling run of form that culminated in a 5-0 thrashing of Falkirk to clinch the championship.

As a full-time club in a predominantly part-time league, McCall accepts that the expectation was always going to be to bounce back to the second tier at the first time of asking. Now that goal has been achieved, he accepts that fans will have high hopes for the coming campaign – particularly given the relative financial muscle that Thistle are able to flex.

“The goal is that we need to finish in the top four. And if you’re in the top four you’ve got a chance of winning it,” McCall reasoned. “That’s the goal, 100 per cent.

“But you’ve got to add to that another nine clubs who will be looking at the table and thinking the same thing. It will be an open league.

“I’m not scared to say that our budget will be in the top half, there will be no doubt about that: particularly if [chairman] Jacqui [Low] and the board add the wee bit that I want, then it will be in the top half.

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“Therefore we have to finish in the top half, and that means the top four. And if you’re in the top four you can win the league. There’s no added pressure, none at all. I’ve been doing it that long now that budgets – pfft. I just get on with it.”

McCall cuts a relaxed figure as he discusses the expectations placed on him for the upcoming campaign but there was the odd occasion during the previous one where emotions ran high – particularly during the first half of the season, as Thistle laboured around mid-table.

The Thistle boss is more than happy to hold his hands up and admit that he and other senior figures at the club have made the odd mis-step here and there – but now that the feelgood factor is back at Firhill, he expects the Jags to build on the positive momentum of late.

“We had a couple of fiery board meetings, I have to say, but that’s to be expected,” he admitted. “I’ll say this: Jacqui Low has been tremendous with me and [chief executive] Gerry Britton has been tremendous.

“Has Jacqui made a couple of mistakes? Yeah. Has Gerry made a couple of mistakes? Yeah. Have I made five million mistakes? I present you Forfar at home [when Thistle struggled to a 2-2 draw against the league’s bottom-placed side].

“And I’d ask the fans – in their working life or in their private life have they ever made mistakes? They’ve been tremendous and they deserve an awful lot of credit. I think the work Gerry does – an awful lot of it gets diluted. He probably cleaned this table today and he’s a chief executive! And as for Jacqui, let me tell you: never underestimate her. She’s a strong, strong willed woman.”

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The Jags’ fall from grace in recent years has been startling – remember, it was only four years ago that they finished in sixth place in the Premiership – but now that the slide has been reversed and they are on the up once more, McCall is determined to capitalise on the galvanising effect of promotion.

He added: “I definitely think we’ve managed to create a real sense of positivity after three or four hard years. Some of those years weren’t somebody’s fault but some were. We’ve got to use this as a sort of rallying cry – get everyone pulling the one way to try and go and do something really special.”

Should Thistle pull off back-to-back promotions, McCall will find himself in esteemed company. The last man to pull off the trick with the Maryhill outfit was the legendary John Lambie – although the current occupant of the Firhill hot-seat reckons he had a part to play in that success over two decades ago.

“First of all, when Lambie got his back-to-back promotions – the second one was only because I ran out of players at Airdrieonians,” McCall said with a wry grin. “We were about eight points clear at one point!

“But we won’t get ahead of ourselves. I want us to stay humble in everything that we do – whether we play a team in the Lowland League, or a team in League One, or Celtic or Rangers, we’ve got to be the same. But the target like everyone else is to go and do something special. To go and do two in a row would be quite nice.”