Marcus Bignot believes Chester ‘couldn’t keep standing still’ as his players begin to adapt to their new full-time training programme.
The Blues have long touted a switch from part-time to full-time and boss Bignot spoke of the need to eventually move to a more professional training regime when he was appointed as Jon McCarthy’s successor.
That need has become a reality this week, the process accelerated by last weekend’s dismal 2-0 defeat at Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round, which led to supporters turning on the players at full-time in the wake of their cup exit.
With his side languishing in the National League relegation zone, Bignot insisted the club needed to take this step to give themselves the ‘best possible’ chance of avoiding the drop.
“A lot has been made of the decision to move to full-time but for me, as a football club, we couldn’t keep standing still,” said Bignot, who oversaw a 2-0 in-house win over Salford City on Tuesday, Nyal Bell on target.
“We’ve been proactive. It makes perfect sense to go full-time as it gives us the best possible opportunity to close the gap on other teams in our league who are full-time. It’s pretty much all full-time now.
“It’s a step in the right direction, the club is moving forward. When I came into the football club, I explained I had ambitions for the club and I was told those ambitions were matched by those working at the club, and this is a sign that we’re moving forward with this positive step.”
The 43-year-old, who had a distinguished Football League playing career with the likes of Rushden and Diamonds, QPR and Crewe, explained that training on Fridays was ‘a given’ when he was a professional and believes the day before a match is the most important day of the week.
“When I was playing, Fridays were a given,” he explained.
“Friday is really important as it’s the day before the game where you can do your preparation in as professional a way as is possible.
“It’s an opportunity for the players to hear what we have to say prior to a game. It won’t do us any harm.”
Asked about senior players who have coaching commitments outside of their playing careers, including Tom Shaw, Ross Hannah and Craig Mahon, Bignot replied: “We’ve had some conversations with certain players and will be doing so with others.
“I understand agreements were made in the summer and some players have commitments, but this is something we’re committing to as staff and a group of players and we need them to share in that ambition.
“At the end of the day, players should have the ambition to want to go full-time. We’ve trained well the first part of this week, there’s been a positive reaction after Saturday. There had to be a positive reaction, whether or not that (defeat at Kidderminster) happened.
“We had an in-house game against Salford where we got to see some of the younger players and lads on the fringes, they played well. It’s been really good but now the important part of the week begins, the Thursday/Friday is crucial in terms of how we prepare for matches.”
Reacting to the decision to rearrange Chester’s trip to Eastleigh for a second time, to Saturday, November 4 (3pm), Bignot feels the switch leads to a ‘better situation’ for both his staff, players and the Blues fans, who have been promised free entry to Ten Acres as a result of the late postponement of the original fixture on September 30.
“It’s a better situation for everyone connected than going down there on a Tuesday night,” he added. “It suits us better, as staff and players, and it’s much better for the supporters, who were the ones who really suffered (from the postponement).
“It’s our game in hand so we’ll look forward to going there and it’s a good opportunity to pick up some points.”
See full story in the Chester Leader