ACT LIKE CHAMPS!
John Coleman’s message to his Accrington Stanley troops
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.
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.”
LOCKED UP: John Coleman congratulates Billy Kee after Stanley beat fancied Mansfield STARTERS! Mallik Wilks enjoys his late equaliser on debut against Notts County