Ipswich Town chief executive Simon Clegg says his side's season could have been very different had Paul Jewell been in charge earlier.
Town were 19th in the table when Jewell took over from Roy Keane in January.
But the former Wigan boss has won eight of his 17 Championship games in charge to lift the Suffolk side six places.
"If Paul had been here for the whole season, based on what he has achieved, we would have been up there," Clegg told BBC Radio Suffolk.
"I am full of confidence and full of belief that there is no reason why we can't be challenging next season from what I've seen from this manager.
"From the ongoing support we're going to have from the owner and the new players we're going to sign in the summer, I have every confidence we will achieve our goal next year."
It has yet to be determined how many members of the current squad will be part of next season's team, with a number of contracts yet to be finalised.
Clegg says they are in talks with "seven or eight" players with the intention of getting deals wrapped quickly.
But he added: "Paul is very clear he's not going to be held to ransom by any player.
"He is heavily involved in determining the level we make on the contract negotiations.
"He recognises, like myself, we have the responsibility to run this club within a budget that is acceptable to the owner."