Jon Kennedy says the Worksop Town squad are united behind manager Mark Shaw as they enter the second half of the season and the NCEL Premier title run in.
Kennedy, the elder statesman of the Tigers squad now in his third spell with the club, believes a poor December has put an overly negative slant on Worksop’s season.
If Worksop’s game at home to Athersley takes place on Saturday, it will be the stopper’s first action for three weeks.
It will also be Tigers’ chance to pick up their first league win since the start of November.
He said: “Performances have not been great.
“We’re been trying to put that right in training.
“It’s not been lose a game, win four, lose another – it’s been a few bad results at one time.
“But if you look at it overall, we’re still second in the league.
“There are five or six teams all bunched up within striking distance at the top, it’s a stronger league than the last few years and it will be tough towards the end of the season – but for us the league is the main thing, that’s what we’re focusing on.”
With a number of games falling to the weather, the lack of midwinter action isn’t such a bad thing, insists the former Sunderland and Halifax man.
“Personally I think the fewer games we play on boggy pitches, the better.
“Hopefully we don’t get too much of a back log but conditions can be a leveller for us.
“So it’s not a bad thing that some of these games have been called off, as long as it doesn’t get too congested at the end of the season.”
The high profile departure of Conor Sellars, Tom Elliott’s transfer request and a bad run of form gave rise to a feeling among some supporters that it wasn’t a happy Worksop Town camp.
But Kennedy, who at the age of 35 has the experience to be able to speak with authority to the younger members of the team, refutes this.
He says social media makes it easier to clear the air these days, and paints a picture of a team fully backing their manager Mark Shaw.
“We have a players Whatsapp group so we all chat outside football,” he said.
“Anything that needs to get said is said, nothing is allowed to linger.
“A few years ago you all got in your cars and went home and didn’t speak until the next training session.
“(As a veteran) you talk to players on an individual basis. I spoke to Tom after the Sheffield Wednesday thing didn’t work out and said don’t let that be the end of it. Before I went to Sunderland I was rejected by Barnsley.
“Some players need a rollicking, some need an arm around the shoulder.
“We’re all pulling with the manager for the league title.
“You’re always going to get some criticism from some fans, but as players we’re all pulling with the manager.”
Kennedy has been one of Worksop’s most consistent performers this season, and is cutting a leaner figure between the posts.
He credits nutritional enlightenment and more wholesome sources of food, as well as the acknowledgement that he’s not as young as he once was.
“It’s a change in lifestyle. I changed the type of food that I eat, cutting out processed stuff.
“Going to farm shops has benefitted me.
“When I was at the club the last time I was a courier, so I was up from anytime between 1am and 6am, and getting home at night.
“Now I have a settled job so I can get to the gym and keep fit.
“When you’re younger you can maybe leave it a few days and get away with it, but I’m 35 now and I can’t leave it, it’s hard to get back if you leave it a few days.”
Returning from suspension, Kennedy will be raring to go this weekend.
Saturday’s visit of Athersley might not happen if the rain keeps falling, but he says Tigers are getting ready for a game regardless.
“We’re preparing as if it is on.
“The lads that came to training on Monday had a hard session.
“The manager gave us Christmas off and left it to the lads to take care of themselves, so we’ll see who has.”