ACT LIKE CHAMPS!

John Cole­man’s mes­sage to his Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley troops

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Lyons

JOHN Cole­man doesn’t hide the fact that au­to­matic pro­mo­tion is the tar­get for Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley this sea­son – and he’s chal­lenged his play­ers to act like ‘cham­pi­ons’.

Stan­ley have started their League Two cam­paign well. They picked up ten points from their first five games to lie third in the ta­ble head­ing into the week­end.

It has fu­elled be­lief at the Wham Sta­dium that they can com­pete with big-hit­ters like Lu­ton and Mans­field this term, de­spite the loss of in­flu­en­tial play­ers like Matty Pear­son (Barns­ley), Shay McCar­tan (Brad­ford) and Omar Beck­les (Shrewsbury) in the sum­mer.

And that pos­i­tive out­look is not just built on a hand­ful of out­ings this sea­son.

In this cal­en­dar year, Stan­ley have been a force in the di­vi­sion, even though they don’t have the re­sources of many of their ri­vals.

Af­ter the turn of the year, Stan­ley hit form, pick­ing up 41 points from 23 games, al­most two points per game, as they surged up the ta­ble, be­fore a late wob­ble left them in 13th place.

Mo­men­tum

Cole­man said: “The tar­get is au­to­matic pro­mo­tion and the play­ers must have that be­lief they can do it.

“They have to con­duct them­selves like cham­pi­ons, look­ing af­ter them­selves, do­ing things right, train­ing hard and get­ting their rest. We have to build that into a squad men­tal­ity.

“Last sea­son, we fin­ished very strongly, but we were start­ing from such a low po­si­tion that it made it very dif­fi­cult. This time, we have to keep our­selves in with a shout early on.

“Ten points from five games is a suc­cess­ful start. If we con­tinue that form, we will have a great chance of go­ing up.”

He’s not wrong. Two points per game over the sea­son would make 92 points – and Portsmouth won the ti­tle with 87 last term.

But the 54-year-old Merseysider has been around too long to think it will be a stroll in the park to keep that kind of mo­men­tum go­ing over the long haul.

“The lads know there’s a long way to go,” he said.

“At times we’ve looked very good and at oth­ers we’ve been a bit off.

“We got pun­ished against Yeovil (Stan­ley lost 3-2), de­spite prob­a­bly hav­ing the bulk of the play, but in other games we have rode our luck a lit­tle bit.

“There is room for im­prove­ment, but we have found a way to win games and the pleas­ing thing is that we are scor­ing more goals.

“We know there are good teams in the league, but we are a good team on our day and we have to make sure we have plenty of those days.”

Cole­man has been wheel­ing and deal­ing to put a new-look squad to­gether and can now fo­cus all his at­ten­tion on his play­ers, with the trans­fer win­dow shut un­til the new year.

A raft of loan sign­ing have come in and had an im­pact, in­clud­ing Leeds striker Mal­lik Wilks, 18, who came on as a sub on his de­but and net­ted a dra­matic last-gasp equaliser against Notts County a cou­ple of weeks ago.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces and get­ting them to gel quickly is dif­fi­cult,” ad­mit­ted Cole­man.

“We are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to re­cruit per­ma­nent sign­ings and some­times you have to take a punt on young lads on loan. At the mo­ment we’ve got eight loan play­ers, but can only play five.

“Try­ing to change a cou­ple into per­ma­nent sign­ings would help. It’s too early to judge the loan play­ers – they need ten or 12 games. We have a sys­tem of play­ing. It’s very in­ten­sive, we like to press the ball and work hard.

“Most of the play­ers see how they can progress with us and un­der­stand what we want.”

PIC­TURE: PSI/John Potts PIC­TURE: Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley

LOCKED UP: John Cole­man con­grat­u­lates Billy Kee af­ter Stan­ley beat fan­cied Mans­field STARTERS! Mal­lik Wilks en­joys his late equaliser on de­but against Notts County

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