Irked Spalding United boss Pat Rayment has moved to silence his critics by insisting: I’m no UCL Premier Division tinkerman.
The Tulips chief is fed up with the constant sniping he claims others direct at his side, as they bid to climb back up the non-league ladder.
But the one thing that winds the former Peterborough United professional up the most is the notion that he has chopped and changed his side after any kind of setback.
“Let’s put this nonsense to bed,” barked the Spalding supremo. “We have less players signed on than any UCL team, that’s a fact and I’ve seen proof.
“I understand other clubs and fans have an agenda when a team has ambitions. It was the same when King’s Lynn were down in this league – and also when St Neots had money.
“But we’re not aproaching players and raiding clubs left right and centre, we’ve got a very small squad.
“I guess there’s also a negative stigma that goes with Spalding United. It’s been there for years and people love knocking us. We’ll deal with it.”
Rayment also admits that, despite having by far the best budget in the UCL, it’s proving tougher than he imagined to get out of a division he simply doesn’t want to be in.
The Tulips are currently 17 points off the pace in fifth place. Although they have games in hand, it’s not a position they were expected to be in as the season enters its second half.
The ex-Deeping Rangers boss puts that down to a rise in wages at step five, insisting that title rivals Holbeach United, St Ives, Quorn and Deeping are among those spending more than they let on.
Rayment added:“We’re trying to fast-track this side up in one season. It took St Neots and King’s Lynn two years to get out of the UCL with similar or better budgets.
“Look at Holbeach. John Chand has been building that side for three years and they’re reaping the rewards.
“Obvioulsy they’ve not done that on peanuts. The same goes for St Ives, Quorn and Deeping. Times have changed at this level, plenty of teams have four-figure budgets.
“We want to go up this year. But if we can’t, I’m convinced we’ll have a settled side that would be better equipped to do that next season.”
One of Spalding’s games in hand was at Blackstones last night (result not known as we went to press). See www.spaldingtoday.co.uk to see how they got on.
The Tulips’ attentions now turn to the UCL League Cup on Saturday, with Division One side Northampton Spencer the visitors to the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field (3pm).
Spencer, demoted from the Premier Division last year, are currently seventh in the standings and aren’t expected to cause an upset in the first round clash.