Leam Richardson has been in a couple of relegation battles – and always stayed up. So that bodes well as the 19th-placed Reds look to put some distance between themselves and the bottom two on Saturday.
Leam Richardson has been in a couple of relegation battles – and always stayed up. So that bodes well as the 19th-placed Reds look to put some distance between themselves and the bottom two when they travel to 22nd-placed Plymouth on Saturday, weather permitting.
Stanley currently have a four-point gap from the bottom two after a run of one win in 10 league games dragged them towards the drop zone. And Richardson was looking to add two new faces ahead of the weekend’s six-pointer.
“Obviously when Accrington first came into the Football League, we battled against relegation for a couple of seasons and were in a similar situation as we are now – and survived,” said the Reds boss.
“As a player, I was on loan at Notts County around 11 years ago. Billy Dearden was the
manager and it was hailed as the ‘Great Escape’ as we needed something like 12 wins out of 15 games to survive in the Second Division – and we did.
“I have never been relegated and I have no intention of starting now.
“I am confident in my own ability and believe that, if I can make a couple of additions, we can get the wins we need sooner rather than later.
“There are a group of around 10 teams trying to avoid being pulled into the relegation fight and, if any one of those can string four or five wins together, they will be safe.
“We are all out to do it quickly to secure our status as soon as we can. We don’t want to still be fighting near the end of the season.”
Richardson, 33, has only been in charge since November and is still getting used to the position of ‘gaffer’. But the pressure has been piled even further on the rookie boss after John Coleman – in charge of the Reds for 13 years until he moved to Rochdale last year – was sacked as Spotland manager on Monday.
“I talk to John a lot but I don’t feel it’s more pressure on me,” he said. “He is just one of 100-plus managers out of work who would all apply for this job if it came up.
“I do not feel the pressure because I feel I am good at what I do and am confident we can turn it around.
“Since I took the job in November, things have changed dramatically with staff changes and with the playing staff and there is a lot to deal with but we are getting there.”
Richardson agreed with Tranmere boss Ronnie Moore’s statement that, when Moore was out of work his phone bill was £19 a month – now it’s £250.
“I second that,” smiled Richardson. “The phone never stops ringing with agents offering players and because I am trying to get players in.
“It’s hard at the moment as players are hedging their bets a little bit.
“They are saying they are interested but have ‘this and that’ to sort out but you know they are probably seeing if another club comes in for them who pays more money – we know it
happens and we can understand that.
“We have identified what we need, we know there are areas where we need to improve vastly and we are trying to do that.
“It’s something we are working on and we want a couple of players in by the weekend and, if not, next week.
“The problem at this time of the year, with the transfer window open, is that there is a lot of dealing with agents.
“From being 22, I never had one but the game seems to need them. It is hard as young players are influenced more by their agents than their manager, coaches or family.
“It’s disappointing but it’s the nature of the game. Younger players feel they need agents to run their life and so it can take a lot of phone calls to get the right players in and it is hard but we never stop working to do that.”
Richardson is also trying to give some of his fringe players pitch-time at other clubs but, as yet, no deals have been done although a non-league club are reportedly interested in taking winger Aiden Chippendale on loan.
“It is something we have been talking about and trying to do,” said Richardson. “I really don’t want to speak about individuals but there are negotiations going on.
“It’s more about the players and their careers as those not playing regularly need to be playing for themselves and that’s what we are looking at.”
One area that is still up for grabs is the goalkeeping shirt with Ian Dunbavin out for the rest of the season following a shoulder operation.
Loan stopper Paul Rachubka has returned to Leeds United – he is still in negotiations with them about his contract and a permanent switch to the Reds. That means Bury loanee Cameron Belford has signed on for another week’s emergency loan.
“The goalkeeping situation is still ongoing at the moment – another headache!” said Richardson.
“It’s the same predicament we have had for the last few weeks.
“Paul has returned to Leeds but we have Cameron for another week and we are in conversation with both of them.
“Cameron wants games and Bury have made it clear that he can move elsewhere; he wants to be playing regular football and he is with us for now.
“He is a good keeper and we are happy to have him here. He has settled in as all the lads are in this together at the club.
“They have been extremely supportive of me and are working hard daily as they want to put it right too.
“We want to add to the squad, to be stronger and we know we need to kickstart our season again.
“One win could get the buzz back around the club and we have the players here who, with a couple of additions, can do it.”
The Reds were gutted after weather postponed Saturday’s AFC Wimbledon home game as there was a cut-price deal in force for match.
It has been rearranged for Tuesday 19 March with the £5 for adults and £1 for Under 12 admission prices still applying.
“It was disappointing after all the hard work which had gone on behind the scenes,” said the Stanley boss. “And we were looking forward to it as we felt it was a game we could win.
“But now we transfer the confidence to Plymouth and we are going there for a win.
“It will be tough, they have a good home record, but it’s a big chance for us to open a gap from the bottom few.”
Richardson is struggling with a couple of injuries with striker Padraig Amond still battling with a groin strain while striker Marcus Carver and wideman Lee Molyneux are doubtful.