Annan Athletic manager Jim Chapman has praised the influence of Gavin Skelton – and insists he wasn’t worried for his job after bringing in the veteran midfielder earlier this season.
Skelton – who is the Ladbrokes League 2 Player of the Month for February – started the season as player/manager of Championship side Queen of the South, but left the club last November after just six months.
The 35-year-old is back on the pitch for the Galabankies in League 2 and Chapman reckons signing the former Gretna and Kilmarnock man was an easy decision.
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes News after being named the Ladbrokes Manager of the Month, Chapman said: “Gavin obviously lost his job at Queen of the South and I think a lot of people were wondering why I was bringing him here.
“Was I putting myself in danger? People might have been thinking he wanted to take my job, but, for me, he was the right person. He’s been great and if we can help Gavin develop his career, we’ll certainly do that – that’s what we’re all about.
“Aside from Gavin, David McKenna is the top scorer and Max Wright has been brilliant too.
“We looked at them both last season and thought they could compliment the younger players we had and they’ve made a fantastic contribution to us.
“But, again, we had a young squad and we don’t really have the resources to buy experience because these players cost serious money, and we don’t have that. But we’ve got plenty of youthful energy; there’s quality in abundance.
“The good thing is that we’re not frightened to give young players the platform to go and express themselves. We lack a wee bit of leadership and guidance on the pitch, and no matter what you do, it doesn’t have the same impact when you’re shouting instructions at the side of the park.”
On winning the award itself, Chapman added that it’s recognition not only for his work, but for others at the club too after winning three of their four games in February.
He added: “I think any award and recognition is always good, but it’s not a personal recognition as far as I’m concerned. A good mentor of mine Willie McLean once told me ‘be prepared to win nothing now; it’s all about players’ and I think every manager will tell you how grateful they are to their staff, their backroom team and players for doing the job.
“Having said that, winning awards is always nice because you take a lot of responsibility when it’s not going well and everybody gets the recognition when it is going well.
“It’s just part and parcel of the job. I’ve been in the game long enough now and this is my eleventh year as a manager. I’ve served my apprenticeship now and it’s nice to sometimes be recognised, that’s for sure.
“What defines success to Annan? People sometimes judge you on Saturday between 3pm and 5pm, and on your final league position, but if you actually look at the resources that we work with, the demographic and the location involved when recruiting players, it’s tough.
“It’s the lowest budget in Scottish football. When you’ve got unlimited resources then it’s all about what you do with it. That comes down to your contacts within the game and your ability to recruit well. Hopefully people recognise the work we do.
“My assistant John Joyce and myself – I think we’ve got a real good reputation when it comes to developing players and moving them on, but we’ve also got the ability to develop and build clubs as well.
“I think we certainly punch way above our weight, but rightly or wrongly people will only judge on where you end up in the league. Hopefully the right people at our club appreciate our work and the fact I’m now four years here at Annan shows we must be doing something right.”
Annan are currently third in Ladbrokes League 2, nine points behind leaders Forfar Athletic. But if you fancy them to win the division, they’re priced at a tempting 33/1 to cause an upset.
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