CARL ADAMS says he has learned to be a more ruthless manager to get the best out of his Stratford Town squad.
Adams stressed only positive performance on the pitch will keep any player in the line-up – and he will not hesitate to drop any individual.
The Town manager believes he can now select from a stronger group of players than last term – and former Birmingham City trainee Jean Kalenda is the latest addition – and no-one is guaranteed a starting role.
Just two months into the season, only two players have started every game – Dan Summerfield and Jordan Cullinane-Liburd – and even captain Richard Gregory has had to face being benched.
The striker responded by netting on his recall in last Saturday’s 3-0 win against Frome Town, with Edwin Ahenkorah and Edji Mbunga also netting, and that is exactly the response Adams wants.
“The players know if they perform, they stay in the team. If they don’t then they will be dropped. It’s simple,” said Adams.
“I stayed very loyal to the players last season. Having been promoted, I promised to give everybody their chance but at the end of the season it cost us when we had that terrible run.
“Now the squad is stronger. It’s more athletic and I don’t need to be so rigid and I can move people around.
“The players have to take responsibility for their performances. I will be a bit more ruthless if they don’t.”
“Richard Gregory was awful against AFC Mansfield when we lost in the Cup so he was left out against Dorchester. Then he came back in against Frome and scored a goal. That’s what I want.
“Liam Francis, Barry Fitzharris, Simeon Tulloch and Kieren Westwood have all come out of the team and then got back in to show what they can do.”
Town’s early season signings have also made positive contributions, with former Birmingham and Leamington midfielder Jimmy Fry slotting into a sweeper role and former Merthyr and Halesowen Town player Summerfield impressing on the right and left.
“Jimmy Fry has come in and been great for us,” said Adams. “Playing sweeper suits him well and though he’s not old he has a wise head on young shoulders.
“Dan has turned out to be a gem, too. He’s a bit like Gary Moran, he’s a seven out of ten player every week.”
However, the fight for places meant Emmitt Delfouneso has left the DCS Stadium to link up with Highgate United.
But the arrival of former Stourbridge and Hinckley AFC player Kalenda will be a like for like replacement, with Adams earmarking him for a defensive midfield role.
“Jean has been training with us for three weeks and I think he can be something we haven’t had,” added Adams. “He is strong, powerful and he loves a tackle.
Despite what has been a demanding fixture list, Town sit ninth in the table as they prepare to welcome Weymouth, another high-flier, to the DCS Stadium on Saturday.
Adams will be forced into one change, with former Redditch player Cullinane-Liburd serving a one-match ban after accumulating five bookings while front-runner Dior Angus starts a three-game ban suspension following his red card at Dorchester.
“I’m really pleased with the start we’ve made,” added Adams. “After Weymouth on Saturday, we will have played most of the top ten but this league is strong from top to bottom. We’ve got to keep it going.”