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INTERVIEW: Write us off at your peril says Coley

Title-chasing Plymouth next visitors to the Wham Stadium

20 March 2023

Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman is calling for everyone to get behind the Reds in the final 10 games of the season, starting tomorrow night against Plymouth Argyle.

The Stanley boss admitted Saturday’s 1-0 loss to relegation rivals MK Dons was a poor show from his side but was disappointed to hear boos and abuse directed at his players.

He has called for everyone to back the players for the 90+ minutes on the pitch as they battle to climb out of the relegation spots – a win tomorrow will do it.

“It’s easy to pick faults when you are not winning and we have dropped into the relegation zone again now, and it’s easy to attach blame,” said Coleman.

“One of the latest ones I heard was the squad has been at the expense of the hospitality facility. I haven’t been denied any players for the sake of this.

“If you are going to try and attract recognised players at this level, they come with a price which is out of our budget.

“You get people complaining that we have lost to a team below us at home - and we didn’t play well on Saturday and I am not making any excuses for that - but compare us budget to budget with MK Dons, compare their top paid strikers with our top paid strikers, it’s night and day.

“At the start of the season four teams have to and will go down, you are looking at teams like Oxford who are spending an absolute fortune compared to us, they are two points above us, MK Dons and Forest Green will dwarf us with their budget.

“The reality of teams who should be there and are there – if you fight and get out of it like ourselves, Morecambe and Cambridge, then good on you.

“Cheltenham are probably bucking the trend. That’s the fight you are in but wait until the fight is finished until you start condemning people and apportioning blame.”

Coleman knows the injuries and suspensions have hit his team hard – with goalkeeper Lukas Jensen and defenders Harvey Rodgers and Doug Tharme banned for tomorrow night's clash.

“Everyone’s focus is staying in this league, no one could foresee what would happen this season.

“You can’t foresee the amount of players we have lost. You could say it’s our fault we have lost players to suspension, but if you see some of the bookings we get, it’s ridiculous.

“Some of it we are to blame but some of it is out of our control. You can’t govern the freak injuries we have had but you have got to keep your head down.

“It was as if Saturday was the final nail in the coffin but we have 10 games to go and anyone who knows Accrington knows we will fight to the bitter end.

“Whatever level we are at, we will always compete, we will always believe we belong at that level because we have earned the right to get there. We are never blasé about where we are and how much of a continual battle it is just to stand still in football sometimes.

“Sometimes you have to have a reality check. Teams we could only dream of surpassing  – Rochdale, Oldham Wrexham, Stockport – and we have.

“You are always trying to better yourselves but people have got to realise how difficult a task it is when you are in such an unforgiving league where money is no object for quite a few clubs. The strength of the opposition benches make your eyes bleed and, on paper and budget, are far better than our starting XI.

“But don’t ever think we are going to throw the towel in, that was the feeling on Saturday after the game. Not a chance. We have been surprising people for 20-odd years and we will continue to do that.”

Steven Schumacher’s Plymouth are going for the League One title and have former Red Mark Hughes as their assistant manager and ex-Stanley midfielder Matt Butcher in their ranks.

“I am pleased for Steven, he has done an unbelievable job, ably assisted by Mark Hughes who is a good friend of ours, and he is very level headed,” said Coleman.

“I like the way he operates and I think he has a bright future ahead of him.

“They have got good players and a healthy squad to choose from. They had an impressive win on Saturday and have a marvellous chance of going up automatically which would be great for those two lads because they are good people.

“Mark Hughes was a great signing for us. His experience over the years, the way he brought players on, how instrumental he was in playing the style of football we wanted to play.

“I don’t think we have ever replaced him as that ball-playing centre half who gets in the right position at the right time, throws his body in front of everything and is a great personality. He led by example.

“Hopefully we can dent their promotion prospects tomorrow but then wish them all the best.

“It’s massive opportunity for us to make some ground, and there will be a lot of people prepared to write us off but history tells us you write Accrington off at your peril.”

Mo Sangare and Ethan Hamilton are making their way back from injury with Sangare battling to be back tomorrow night. Seamus Conneely is out for a couple of weeks.

Jay Rich-Baghuelou, Joe Pritchard, Ryan Astley, Liam Coyle, Alhagi Touray Sisay and David Morgan are all long-term injuries.

The full pre-match interview with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!

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