Jack Pearce says it’s doubtful he will be the Rocks manager next season – but it is not out of the question.
And he has launched an impassioned defence of his record in the Nyewood Lane hotseat – while telling fans some of their recent comments are putting existing players off staying with the club.
Bognor are on the brink of relegation back to the Isthmian League after a season in National League South and Pearce has been under fire for much of the season for not giving the team manager’s job to someone else.
After Tuesday night’s superb 2-1 win over St Albans, which meant they lived to fight another day in the relegation battle, Pearce was asked whether the club were any nearer getting a new permanent manager. He said: “No, we’re not. We’re not any closer. We’ll be looking and we’ll do what we need to do and we’ll move forward.”
And asked whether the fact they would be ‘looking’ meant he would NOT be team manager next season, he added: “Not necessarily. It’s doubtful that I will be but it’s not definite. I still feel I have a lot to offer this football club in terms of educating players how to play the game and it is a massive, massive job.
“Unfortunately we have a noisy minority who do not have a clue, in my opinion, about the problems we suffer as a club.
“They have to understand that I’ve been here quite a few years. I want them to write down how many players living in this location - Bognor, Pagham, Chichester, Littlehampton - have played at step two level in the past ten years.
“I’d then like to ask them how many people have been wiling to back this club to the level that other clubs have been backed.
“One of the proudest achievements I have is that if you go from Hastings to Weymouth, which is quite a big area, we are the only club still playing at the level we were, or above, 40 years ago who have not had to amalgamate, not had to go into a CVA (creditors’ agreement), not had to go out of business owing thousands and reform, not had to go out of business altogether, and have still got good facilities, a good standard of football to play at and don’t owe anyone a single shilling and have still got money in the bank.
“If that’s the legacy I leave I am immensely proud of that. I could have tried to save my football managerial reputation (this season) because we could have gone and signed people on ridiculous money that would have kept us in this league. But it would have sent the club long-term out of business owing money like some do who get relegated from this league.
“When we look around there’s not many people who can say there’s someone living in this vicinity who’s a proven manager at this level. There’s plenty that can do step three, four and five – there’s not many can say ‘I’m willing to do the job and I’m proven at atep two’.
“The two things we’ve missed all season are a goalscoring midfielder and a striker that’s a proven goalscorer. I’ve heard all the criticisms, I’ve read some if it, and with the knowledge that the supporters have, I can understand their frustrations.
“I don’t have a problem with that and I agree with a few bits of their comments. I can understand it. But none of them can give me the names of the two players who can play in midfield or up front at this level living within 25 miles of Bognor so they can train with us that are within our financial restraints.
“You can have all the ‘we’ll do this and we’ll do that’ but it wouldn’t have mattered who the manager was, in my opinion. Certain managers might have come in and had a little more luck than me.
“Last year (the Ryman premier promotion season) Jamie and Dabba, in my opinion, produced a miracle. If we hadn’t got Dan Lincoln in we would not have got anywhere near the top of that league, nowhere near it.
“The boy James Fraser’s goals from midfield were immense. Do I think he would have scored those goals at step two? No. Where’s he playing now? Step five. That’s the reality. And I’ll be very honest – if I was given all the same options again on the players I released, even with hindsight, I would make all the same decisions again.
“I do accept my job was to get a midfield player in and a striker in and I have failed absolutely miserably in those areas.
“Those two players we needed do not exist in this area and if it wasn’t for my contacts, we wouldn’t have got Keaton Wood, we wouldn’t have got Kriss Campbell, we wouldn’t have got Manny Adebowale and we wouldn’t have got Justin Amaluzor from Barnet.
“The only reason they’re with us is because of my connections with the chairmen of those clubs, who still think a player coming to Bognor is good for their players because they think we play in the right way.
“People would be amazed at how highly Bognor as a football club is held by people outside of Bognor.
“That’s football and it’s still the most wonderful game in the world and nights like Tuesday night are great. I’m pleased for the supporters they’ve had a win at last because I do suffer with them.
“What they do need to be careful is the way some of them have been going on with what they think is humorous... we have to sign players for next year and I can tell you the dressing room we have is happy and some of them are doing a very good job of putting off existing players from wanting to play for this club in the future, and they ought to be very careful about their comments.”
The Rocks host Hemel Hempstead on Saturday – they must win that and their four remaining games, and hope that only one of Concord, Poole or Hungerford beat their final tally.