UPBEAT boss Tommy Wright is adamant that he is the right man to lead Stratford Town – and he’s thoroughly determined to prove the doubters wrong.
Following Town’s crushing 4-1 defeat to Halesowen Town in the FA Cup on Saturday, there have since been calls by some fans among the terraces and on social media to see a change in management.
It’s very early days in the season, but to have been knocked out of two cup competitions in disappointing fashion by the same team in the space of 11 days, as well as the poor defending in recent games, has not gone down well with some of the Blues faithful.
Fans were expecting a better showing from their dismal 1-0 defeat to the Yeltz in the preliminary round of the Southern League Challenge Cup on 10th September, but what they witnessed in the FA Cup was more of the same, as Town were dumped out of the country’s biggest cup competition after what Wright called a ‘second-half horror show’.
And to make matters worse, leading goalscorer Nabil Shariff received a straight red card for an alleged elbow on Jordan Piggott and he will now miss Town’s next three games, starting with Saturday’s trip to Hitchin Town in the Southern Premier Central.
Wright was clearly frustrated in the way in which his team’s defending cost them a place in the FA Cup third qualifying round and when asked about some fans calling for a change in manager, the Town boss told the Herald: “Ultimately those kind of decisions are out of my hands, but there’s only one way I can manage and the only way you change the opinions of fans is by winning games of football.
“It’s just the nature of the beast. You lose games and all of a sudden you’re under pressure – not that I feel it – but when you win, the fans go home happy.
“There was not really much between the teams in the first half on Saturday, but the game changed with conceding from another set play after 44 minutes and we didn’t react to that.
“I have been in situations before at high-profile clubs where fans have been on my back and I have always come through those bad spells, and I know I can do the same here.
“I believe in what I believe in, but ultimately how the team is doing is what I will be judged on.
“With the fact the club got to the play-offs and won the League Cup last season, the expectation levels of the fans has gone through the roof.
“We are only five points off the play-offs and have picked up four points in our last two league games, so I’d like to think we are well on course for a good position in the league come April.
“However, you can’t please everyone and fans can call me clueless if they want, and I’m fine with that as I’ve got broad shoulders, but what they don’t realise is that not many managers at my age can say they have won this division.
“When I was managing Corby Town, I was only 29 and the only time we were at the top of the table was after the final game of the season where we went to our closest rivals Poole Town and won the league on their own patch.
“When I have done something like that in my career, I think I deserve the time to go through with the project that’s happening here at Stratford Town.”
With Wright celebrating his 35th birthday this Saturday, the Town boss is hoping for the perfect present – three points from their trip to struggling Hitchin Town.
The Canaries are second-from-bottom after their opening eight games of the season and are yet to win.
With that in mind, Wright knows the clash in Hertfordshire could be seen as a potential banana skin and has demanded his players to stand up and be counted after the FA Cup horror show.
“I will protect my players from the criticism from fans and gladly take the blame for disappointing results and performances, but those players do need to show that they are playing for me,” he added.
“Some of the defending against Halesowen, especially for the third and fourth goals, was just non-existent and on the day we did not deserve anything, so it’s now time for the players to stand up and be counted.
“During my playing career I always gave my all for the manager, whether I liked him or not, and I expect that from my players too.
“Hitchin have not got off to a great start, so there’s an opportunity for us to go and get another three points on the board.
“If we play like I know we can, then we will get the right result.”
New signing George Heaven could be in line to make his debut at the heart of the Town defence after failing to come off the bench in the defeat to Halesowen, while Liam Hughes serves out the final game of his three-match suspension.