THE last time Braintree Town dropped from the National League premier division, new manager Brad Quinton was given a three-year plan by the club: avoid relegation in the first year, consolidate in the second and then challenge for promotion in the third.

New manager Glen Driver has also talked of a three-year plan and will probably be hoping that, unlike Quinton, he doesn’t achieve too much too soon.

Quinton attained year three’s ambition in year one and then paid for it with his job when he couldn’t sustain the momentum in the premier division.

Driver’s team has very little National League South experience, let alone premier division, so a repeat performance does not look to be on the cards.

One thing they have in common is the wish to play attractive football.

Quinton was welcomed not just because of his links with the club but also his football philosophy of quick inter-passing, compared with the long-ball game favoured by his predecessor Hakan Hayrettin and earlier by Alan Devonshire.

Driver has made the same promise but on the evidence of the friendlies this may take some time to bed in.

The danger of passing the ball round at the back is that it needs to be absolutely precise.

A few centimetres the wrong way and a forward will be there to nip in, steal the ball and head for goal, as has happened a couple of times in the past few weeks.

Playing from the back needs movement and intelligent running from midfield and attack.

Quinton had the wit and football intelligence of Billy Crook and Luke Allen to call on.

This year’s Crook and Allen have yet to emerge

Driver has made all the right noises as he has built his squad: ‘I was pleased to get him’, ‘he fits into the way I want to play’ etc, but the squad at the moment looks very much on the lightweight side, full of promise but lacking in the odd experienced head or two that could pull it all together.

One needs only to look at the greater solidity George Elokobi brought to the defence when he joined on loan in the 2016-17 season.

Many felt that had he been able to stay for the whole of the season, relegation might have been avoided.

Driver instead is putting his faith in youth and ambition.

This year’s squad have signed from places like Potters Bar, Bedford and Aveley.

Driver was handed a tough task when he took over after Danny Searle’s surprise resignation.

Whether Searle would have been able to keep last year’s side together is a moot point but there is a possibility that some would have stayed.

Instead, like Quinton and Jamie Day before him, Driver has seen virtually all of last season’s side – and because Searle delayed his departure until more than three weeks after the season had finished, he has been forced to play catch-up.

The academy players who broke into the first team squad at the end of the season are the only ones still available to him from last season’s premier division side.

Of the rest, it is far too early to tell what impact they will be able to have.

But chairman Lee Harding’s challenge to Driver this season is a realistic one.

If he can avoid relegation (and double relegations from the premier are not uncommon – Altrincham in 2016 and 2017, North Ferriby in 2017 and 2018, for instance), the first hurdle will have been overcome and then, hopefully, the three-year plan will remain on course.