ACCRINGTON boss John Coleman may have been in management for 17 years but admits he’s still learning.
The 52-year-old said on his return to Stanley in September that he’d mellowed in the 32 months he’d been away.
And that’s manifested itself in a slight change in his management style, which has helped the Reds move up the table. Last Saturday's win over Cambridge left them 12th in League Two and victory over Exeter on Friday night will leave them one point and one place outside the play-off places.
“I did something I don’t normally do last Saturday,” Coleman revealed. “Everyone who wasn’t in the squad, I pulled them in and had an individual chat with them.
“I tried to make them feel part of it and ensure they know how important it is they stay with us because it could be their chance this week.
“I also wanted to point out to them the error of my ways. When I was a player, as soon as I heard I wasn’t playing I’d spit my dummy dramatically. I’d storm out.
“I said to the lads that when I was their age, I’d be in my car now, going to watch someone else play.
“I wish someone had told me then to think about my actions because I didn’t realise at the time how disrespectful it was to my team-mates, never mind the manager.
“I wish I’d known that then because I’d have been better as a player and better as a fella. But the team spirit here now is very good, they’re a great set of lads.”
Coleman has also learnt to focus less on the result and more on the performance.
“I’ve realised everything’s not black and white,” he said. “Too often I got too embroiled in only seeing success or failure, but it’s not like that.
“I tell the lads to look each other in the eye before the game. If you can do it on the way back in, knowing you couldn’t have done any more, then whatever the result was you can be comfortable with yourselves.
“How do you measure success? The black and white is getting a win. But you can’t guarantee that.
“In my eyes, the only way you can guarantee success is to change the parameters of success.
“Instead of winning the game, I’ve said success will be giving your all every time, concentrating as much as you can and supporting your team-mates. If they all hit that success rate then you’ll end up winning more games than you lose.
“If they do give their best effort then you’ve got to accept the result because that’s the nature of the game.
“It’s when you feel you could have done more. We feel they should police each other on that, they should demand more off each other – and so far it’s worked.”
It's been a challenge for Coleman to keep team morale high as he's had to leave several senior players out in recent weeks due to the size of his squad.
Piero Mingoia was out of the side for almost two months before earing a recall last week, scoring both goals against Cambridge. And Coleman feels that demonstrates both the Reds' strength in depth and the professionalism of those waiting in the wings.
“Give Piero his due, he works hard every day in training, like they all do to be fair, he wouldn’t be alone in that," he said. “That’s the secret to being able to perform at this level and earning the right to start.
“You look behind you and you look in the stands and we’ve got some fantastic players who aren’t even getting a shirt at the moment,” added the Stanley boss.
“We’ve got strength in depth now. We’ve got a good camp and that’s going to be vital if we can carry that type of squad.
“We’ve got a squad of 23, 24, which is quite big for Accrington. Within the confines of the budget we’ve done well to assemble a squad that big. Keeping everyone happy is the key.
“We’re only as strong as the weakest link and we’ve got no weak links in the dressing room at the moment.
“The character’s fantastic, everyone was buzzing around each other and was part of getting that result.”