STORKS boss Craig Chadwick insists his players have 13 games to secure their future at the Arbories.
It’s been a campaign over-flowing with frustration and inconsistency for Padiham, who have endured back-to-back defeats on seven occasions in all competitions.
A loss at home to in-form Runcorn Town tomorrow would also be the fourth time this season that the Storks have lost three successive fixtures.
“The inconsistency this season has been really frustrating for us,” said Chadwick.
“I can’t really put my finger on what’s causing it. We’ve held open forums with the lads on several occasions to talk things through, and everyone’s happy with their jobs and our philosophy.”
Aside from the loss of a handful of players Chadwick claims there has been little change at the club, with the majority of personnel, the formation, the philosophy and footballing values remaining intact from last season’s success.
But the Padiham boss can’t put his finger on individual traits that are forcing the current downwards spiral.
Complacency, following last year’s fourth place finish in the Premier Division, has been suggested; a lack of confidence within the ranks is another possibility while a contrast in goal-scoring form is there in black and white for all to see.
The Storks, from 29 games, have scored 33 goals - a far cry from last season’s league tally of 84.
“It’s not one thing, it’s an accumulation of things,” declared Chadwick.
“Our goalscoring has been nowhere near what it was last season. We were always confident of creating chances and scoring a few last campaign but it’s not been the same this time around.
“Some of it may be complacency running through from last season, but we seemed to get over that. We just keep letting ourselves down and sometimes it seems like the lads have lost a bit of confidence in themselves.
“We lack leaders on the pitch who can re-organise things to suit the situation and the challenge. One week we can go away to Winsford or Ramsbottom United and win then we get beat 4-0 at home to Silsden. It’s bizarre.”
The Storks recorded 21 victories last term, adding 10 draws to the pot, which saw them accrue 73 points. This season they would need to seal maximum points from each of their remaining outings to equal that tally.
“We’ve tried to overplay a bit too much at times,” said Chadwick. “We mixed it up last season, dug in when we needed to grind out results, and we were effective. I still want the lads to go out there, enjoy themselves and express themselves but we’re not helping ourselves at the moment. We just need to get that winning mentality back.”
He added: “We’ve stuck to playing 4-4-2 a lot more, haven’t really changed personnel and we’ve kept the team playing in a similar way. Everything is settled but individual errors and conceding sloppy goals has cost us and given us a mountain to climb.”
The target now for Chadwick is to claim a bit more respectability in terms of results and league position. It’s a chance for the players to prove themselves and earn a future at the club with Chadwick and assistant Dave Wilkes already running the rule over the squad in preparation for the 2012/13 campaign.
“We are not setting any targets,” Chadwick claimed. “We just want to pick up as many points as we can and build for next season. We want to start putting points on the board, finish on a decent run and get that consistency back.
“It’s up to the players now to start showing that they want to be here next season. We are already looking ahead and identified the players we want here next year. But there’s still time for the lads to prove themselves. We definitely want to improve and build on what we’ve already got and we want to add competition for places within the squad. Maybe we need to freshen things up.”
Chadwick added: “I’m confident things will get back to how they were. If I wasn’t confident then I’m in the wrong job. We lost six on the bounce last season and were dumped out of all the cups in the first round but we still did well. The lads are happy and I’ve no doubt things will pick up.”