Mark Lawn today took a swipe at those City fans who wanted “eye-opening signings” and demanded: Were you expecting Lionel Messi?

Phil Parkinson has revamped his squad with eight new captures and there is a genuine sense of optimism for the season ahead.

Joint-chairman Lawn has been delighted with the summer business – but unimpressed with the critics who feel they should have been more exciting names.

Lawn said: “You hear people asking ‘where are all these eye-opening signings’? But do they expect us to go out and sign Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

“We ought to be more realistic about what we think are big signings. For a League Two club, we’ve made some very good ones.

“Andrew Davies was playing at Stoke – so that’s a League Two eye-opener.

“Championship clubs were after James Meredith and he turned them down to come to us. That says something.

“Rory McArdle was one of the Rochdale team that went up before going to Aberdeen.

“Gary Jones can be the catalyst. People say he’s 35 but Stuart McCall was 30-odd when he came here and look at the difference he made.

“We let Stuart go and look what he did for Sheffield United – and he was 36 by then. If you’ve got people around him who can do the bits and bobs, then you’re all right.

“Stephen Darby played 91 games in League One in the last two seasons but agreed to drop down to us.

“Alan Connell, top scorer of last year’s champions, not an eye-opener? How many more do they want?

“I’m not saying they are all world beaters but at this level those names stand up against anyone.”

City have pushed the boat out this season but Lawn insists they are keeping a careful eye on the budget – to avoid slipping up like the financially-stricken Bulls.

And he warned that they will review things in the mid-term transfer window if the campaign does not pan out as hoped.

“It’s a fairly expensive squad, as people can guess, and if it hasn’t worked by January, then like any prudent business we may have to look at it and rejig it,” said Lawn.

“When you’re dealing with other people’s money, which I am with the fans, as well as putting the extra in yourself to make sure we’ve got a good squad, then you’ve got to be like that. That’s the right way of doing it.

“I don’t want to have a go at anybody but we don’t be in a situation like the Bradford Bulls where they’ve set their budgets too high, not been able to pay for them and are waiting for a benefactor to come along.

“Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a benefactor going to come along for Bradford City. So we’ve got to run to break even.”