AFC Totton are expected to unveil the perfect Christmas present – a new contract for manager Stuart Ritchie.
By the time Ritchie, pictured, pits his wits against Bashley on Boxing Day, his long-term future with the club is likely to be confirmed following recent negotiations with chairman Phil Shephard.
Ritchie, whose current contract expires in May, has been linked with other clubs following the Stags’ recent league and FA Cup success.
But he wants to build on the foundations he has laid at the Testwood Stadium and will now get that opportunity.
In the short-term he is focused on the visit of Bashley, a club where he enjoyed a successful spell as a player but one he now looks down on as a manager from the upper reaches of the Evo-stik Southern Premier League.
He said: “This will be the first time I’ve come up against Bashley as a manager in a competitive match so it will be a bit strange.
“We had a very good team there in the 1990s under Trevor Parker with great players and characters like Jimmy Shepherd, Jeremy Stagg, Wayne Shaw, Jason Lovell, Nicky Bridle and Kevin Green.
“They were the club everyone was trying to emulate and there was a lot of potential for them to go even further, which just shows you cannot afford to stand still.
“It’s important to try to progress because it’s easy to stay in the mid-table comfort zone. When a club has success it needs to keep pushing on which is what I want now for Totton. I don’t want to leave, it’s a club on my doorstep and there’s a lot more for us to achieve.”
The current Bashley team is without a win in six games as it prepares to face a Totton team that has only lost one of its last eight – the FA Cup defeat against Bristol Rovers.
“Steve Riley’s a good manager who I’m sure will push Bashley on again, if not this season then next season,” added Ritchie, who did not travel to Oxford City for last week’s 2-2 draw because of illness.
“There’s still a bit of flu in the camp, but otherwise we’re at full strength,” he said.
Kick off at the Testwood Stadium on Boxing Day is at 1pm.