NEW Wrexham manager Dean Saunders has told all his fit senior players to be on the coach to Forest Green this morning, insisting that none of them are along just for the ride until or unless they fail to meet his standards.
The former Liverpool and Wales striker admitted yesterday he was not as well-prepared as he would have liked for his first venture into management, but claimed he was a quick learner and that he had advised every member of the squad to be equally receptive.
“There have not been enough hours in the day to deal with everything yet,” he said.
“But everyone is going tomorrow because, regardless of who plays, they all need to understand the principles I want to instil in them, so they all need to be listening and they need to see me trying to put the things right that have been wrong.”
Saunders declined to name his starting line-up, but added: “I could have picked any 11 from the 20 or so players available, because I don’t really know any of them well enough at the moment.
“What I want to see tomorrow from the players involved is a determination to wear the Wrexham shirt with pride and for them to demonstrate that they won’t surrender that shirt lightly to someone else.
“All the players need to understand that I’m going to improve things and those who are not playing tomorrow don’t need to feel it’s a reflection on what I think of them. I need a bit of time to work out what I believe my best team to be and that will happen over the course of the next few weeks or months.
“But until I say otherwise everyone in the squad has got the chance to tell me they want to be part of what I want to achieve at this club and that they are prepared to do that when the going gets tough.
“It’s all very well being a footballer when the team is 3-0 up at home and everyone is happy. It’s when you are 1-0 down at home and getting some stick that you truly find out about players.”
Prior to confirmation of his appointment on Thursday morning, since when Saunders has squeezed in three training sessions, he watched a full scale practice match at the Racecourse but admitted he had not learned too much.
“To try and watch 22 players at the same time is very difficult, particularly if you are not familiar with the faces,” he said. “All I can say about them at present is that their attitude in training has been great and I’m sure everyone is up for tomorrow’s game.
“I think they have taken on board what I have told them so far and I’d like to believe they have all understood what we are asking them to do. I cannot guarantee our supporters a result at Forest Green, but what I can guarantee is that the 11 players who go out on the pitch will give everything for the shirt because they know that’s the bottom line.
“I will forgive any player for weaknesses in his game, because many managers forgave me for the same reason, but there is no excuse for not giving 100% and, as a result, letting down your team and the supporters.”
Saunders said there had been little time for homework on today’s opponents, adding:” I’m more concerned about giving my players a lift and hope they will respond with a result to encourage as many fans as possible to turn up at the Racecourse on Tuesday night for the match with York City.”
Forest Green, managed by former Wrexham midfielder Jimmy Harvey, will be looking for a first win in seven games after five defeats and a draw during September.
And there will be a debut for newly-appointed assistant manager Jerry Gill, who has moved to The New Lawn from nearby Cheltenham Town.
Gill, now 38, played almost 300 Football League games in a career with Birmingham City and Northampton Town, prior to his move to Whaddon Road in February 2004, where he made 180 league appearances.
Harvey said: “Good things do not happen overnight and Jerry will hopefully be a stabilising force both on and off the field and bring a new dimension and fresh ideas to take us back up the table."