Respected Deeping Rangers boss Tuncay Korkmaz has rubbished Spalding United’s detractors ahead of today’s Boxing Day derby duel.
Korkmaz, who led Deeping to the UCL Premier Division title back in 2007, feels the Tulips will win this year’s championship at a canter.
Although many are billing today’s Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field clash (3pm) as the game of the season so far, the Turkish tactician believes the result won’t affect the title race – and took the time to pay tribute to Pat Rayment’s impact on Spalding as a club.
He said: “I don’t really see this as the game of the season or anything like that. Whatever happens, we’ll not win the league.
“For me, Spalding United are the champions already. That’s not mind games, I said the same before a ball was kicked.
“They may have lost to Rushden and Diamonds, but that was with ten men. When they have 11 on the field, they are the best side in this league by a big distance.
“Full credit has to go to Pat Rayment. There’s a lot of jealousy towards him and the club because of their money.
“But money doesn’t guarantee success. They have spent it wisely and, like St Neots and King’s Lynn before them, have aims beyond the UCL Premier Division and most of its clubs.
“If you look at the change at the club from when Pat took over to where they are now, it’s absolutely huge.
“They probably have the best team the club has ever had, certainly they have the best team I can remember.”
Deeping are without suspended skipper Dave Burton-Jones for the trip to South Holland, while Matt Heron (foot) is a major doubt.
Scott Bogusz is also highly unlikely to feature after injuring his neck last week.
They are also missing key striker Josh Moreman, who left Outgang Road on Friday to sign for higher-graded Kettering Town.
The move doesn’t really come as a surprise, considering Moreman stepped down a few levels to return to Deeping earlier this term after leaving Corby Town.
Having not played on Saturday, Rangers go into the top-of-the-table showdown some ten points behind Spalding.
After the Spalding clash, Deeping host Holbeach United on Saturday (3pm).
Follow @LFPSport on Twitter for live updates from both derby games.