Belper Town manager Aaron Webster believes the club’s five game losing streak has helped him decide on which players to keep next season.
Webster said he has learned a lot about the character of his squad amid adversity and it’s given him food for thought for next season.
Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat by Kidsgrove Athletic was a fifth loss in a row for a Belper side ravaged by injury and Webster, who has been away for two weeks on a pre-planned trip, said:“I spoke to Lee (assistant Williamson) every couple of days while I was away and it wasn’t good feedback I was getting.
“It’s not been great. At this time of season it’s easy for players to switch off when you’re not fighting to get promoted or fighting against relegation, you’re just in the middle of the table.
“But, at the end of the day, a lot of players are playing for futures whether it’s at Belper or at other clubs. From what I hear from the last four games, sadly probably no one will want some of them.
“There are no games in which players can’t be bothered. Every game is important for different reasons.”
He added: “We have kind of needed to see these losses as you can read characters and see how it affects people when they’re losing.
“When you’re playing well, it’s easier. But when times are tough you can really see the guys who want it and those who don’t want it.
“I hated losing as a player and I do now as a manager – I want my players to hate losing too. At times in the last few months that hasn’t come across to me.”
Webster believes recent circumstances have caused a perfect storm to brew that has resulted in the losing run.
He said:“There are no excuses, but a lot of things have come together at the worst possible time – me being away, four games in 11 days and injuries to maybe eight so-called starters and unable to fill benches.
“So many influential players have not been involved while I’ve been away.
“On one team sheet we had seven teenagers in the team, which bodes well for the future, but at the moment it means there isn’t enough experience on the pitch to play against men, who are big and strong.
“Some of the U21s have been involved and it’s been a learning curve for them. It’s a good experience to be a part of the first team. “On the flip side it’s probably not good to be part of a side that’s been long heavily at times.
“Hopefully it doesn’t stay with them and they’ve enjoyed being part of it and they will want a lot more of it next season.
“We are training on Thursday and we’ll have to see how all the injured players are.”
Webster’s long-standing trip, booked 18 months before he took the job was only supposed to see him miss two games – but it quickly turned into four.
Webster explained: “Before I applied for the job I wasn’t involved in football at the weekends and two years ago my wife and I booked to go to Jamaica where I was to be best man at one of my best friend’s wedding.
“It was great to get the Belper job, but I had already made this commitment to my friend of 30 years and it had cost us a lot of money.
“So I tried to get the best possible structure in place while I missed what was supposed to be only two games. But, with all the fixture congestion, rearranged games made me miss four which I was gutted about.”
After Saturday’s final game at Newcastle Town, planning for next year begins and Webster is looking forward to bringing in new players and conducting his first pre-season at the club.
“I am always on the look-out for new players,” he said.
“Me and Lee are talking to each other about who we like and locations. But we can’t break any rules and ring anyone up until the season ends. We’ve just got to be patient.
“Ever since I came in I’ve been looking forward to pre-season. That’s not saying I haven’t enjoyed this half of the campaign.
“But, with a pre-season I can get things done my way rather than the way the lads were used to. not ruffling fathers or unsteadying a ship.
“It will be how me and Lee want it to be run and if players can’t be a part of that then we’ll have to look elsewhere.
“I am looking forward to making phone calls and telling players about what we want to do going forward.
“But I have enjoyed every minute of the last five months apart from when we’ve lost.”