In a short statement on the official club website late on Monday evening, James Beattie was announced as the new Accrington Stanley manager. The former England striker spoke of his delight at being chosen for the role, revealing how he had been bitten by the Stanley bug after seven months in Accrington as player and coach.
The club had been without a first team manager for just shy of a fortnight after Leam Richardson departed for Chesterfield – a period in which some players were released, others signed new contracts and a great deal of speculation took place over who should take Accrington forward.
The past eighteen months have been times of great upheaval at the club. After stalwarts John Coleman and Jimmy Bell left after over a decade in charge, few could have predicted that at the end of the following season Stanley would be appointing a new man at the helm for a third time.
Many fans called for Coleman and Bell to be re-appointed in a bid to regain stability as well as a resurgence of the most successful times in the club’s history. In truth, this wish was born out of a degree of opportunism due to the availability of the pair and unavoidable nostalgia. At the core of the clamour was the aim to avoid becoming a club that changes its leader with frightening frequency.
James Beattie is a breath of fresh air and offers something which no other can. A likeable and knowledgeable character with well documented pedigree, he knows what it takes to succeed as a professional at the top level –yet understands how a club like Accrington works best.
In interviews following his appointment, Beattie spoke of his desire to meet the challenge he faces and succeed at it. He believes that he is the right person for the job and that his influence and connections will only help the club. The new manager also speaks of gaining an inexplicable infatuation with the club and it is this that truly earns him credibility with Stanley fans.
Beattie brings with him an infectious belief. In his career he led the forward line – a scorer of important goals rather than a prolific poacher. If he can instil a team spirit that reflects his own sense of drive and shoot-for-the-stars mentality, he has every chance of emulating the great duo’s tale of impossible success.
Departing manager Richardson’s backroom team of Paul Stephenson and Paul Lodge will be there to aid Beattie on the touchline and training field. The experience of the pair will go a long way to back up the young hopeful in a job that has the potential to become very lonely. Beattie also has great support from the chairman and board which he will need to take advantage of as he looks to build a competitive side for next term.
His first task is to keep together the members of the existing squad that ensured league football for Accrington, most of whom are out of contract very soon.
Best of luck to you James, the fans are right behind you.
On, Stanley, On.