The Football League Paper - - TFLP - By Sam El­liott

AC­CRING­TON STAN­LEY have reached their ceil­ing? Don’t let re­turn­ing man­ager John Cole­man hear you say that.

The 51-year-old is back at the club he helped take from the North­ern Premier League first di­vi­sion to the Foot­ball League – and he’s not made a sec­ond com­ing to be sat­is­fied with just keep­ing them from re­turn­ing to Non-League foot­ball.

Cole­man, who left the Crown Ground to man­age League One Rochdale in Jan­uary 2012, has spent 13 years at Ac­cring­ton plot­ting pro­mo­tion after pro­mo­tion.

The for­mer More­cambe, Mac­cles­field and South­port striker re­placed James Beat­tie, who sud­denly quit the day be­fore Stan­ley’s 1-0 League Two win over AFC Wim­ble­don last Satur­day.

Cole­man said it “wasn’t an easy decision” to come back de­spite the emo­tional pull – es­pe­cially as some fans are still sore about his exit nearly three years ago. He told The FLP: “I had a lot to con­sider. I had a good job as man­ager of Sligo Rovers, a club in the Premier Di­vi­sion of the North­ern Ir­ish League.

“It’s lovely there, the peo­ple are fan­tas­tic and the foot­ball is very good, but the lure of the English Foot­ball League was so strong for me.


“Peo­ple will say, ‘But Ac­cring­ton have reached their limit, they can’t go any higher’. I think that’s rub­bish. When I started here in 1999 ev­ery­one said there was no way we could get back to the Foot­ball League and stay there for so long, but we did and we’re still alive and kick­ing.

“The first aim is to es­tab­lish our­selves in the top half and then we can try and re­ally take the club for­ward.”

Cole­man has warned League Two he’s a much more savvy man­ager than when he left, and wants to build bridges with the small per­cent­age of sup­port­ers that may not have for­given and for­got his exit to Spot­land.

“It’s been a long jour­ney with Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley,” he said. “I’m wiser, I have had some ex­pe­ri­ences, good and bad, and I’m back here stronger for it.

“I left a few years ago be­cause it was a big op­por­tu­nity for me at Rochdale. Some sup­port­ers are still dis­ap­pointed that I left be­cause I went to our neigh­bours, but I want to win them back around. The only way to do that is to win foot­ball matches.

“This is a club close to my heart, it al­ways has been and I think we can bring suc­cess here. I’m am­bi­tious and can’t wait to get down to work.”

Cole­man con­firmed care­taker man­ager Paul Stephen­son, who worked with him in his pre­vi­ous spell at Ac­cring­ton, will re­main on the coach­ing staff.

FIZZY POP: John Cole­man and No.2 Jimmy Bell cel­e­brate pro­mo­tion to the League in their first spell at Ac­cring­ton

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