‘Heart-broken’ Holwell Sports manager Andy Gray has quit after just nine months because he claims certain players were unwilling to learn.
Gray resigned straight after his side’s 4-3 County Cup defeat to lower league Asfordby on Tuesday evening, believing he was fighting a losing battle with a section of the squad.
The former Heather St John’s and Ashby Ivanhoe manager arrived in January with plenty of silverware on his CV, and helped haul the club away from the bottom of the East Midlands Counties League.
Supporters had high hopes for Gray’s first full season in charge after squad strengthening over the summer, but a run of two wins in their opening seven league games left the manager exasperated.
“I hate quitting; I don’t quit anything, but I don’t feel I can give any more to the football club because of the lack of willingness to learn,” he said.
“It breaks my heart because I really love the place and I’ve felt at home from the moment I walked through the door. Graham Lewin (chairman) and Martin Rooney (president) have been fantastic.
“I felt absolutely betrayed last night, but this morning I felt I have let the good people at the club down.
“At the moment my heart says go back to Holwell and have another go, but my head says we’ll just have the same problems.
“I don’t think I’m Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola, but I’m not willing to put my name to the performances we’ve had of late because it doesn’t represent what I’m about.”
Gray had considered his future over the last couple of weeks, but Tuesday’s cup upset marked a low point of his tenure and proved the final straw.
“Last night was the final nail in the coffin,” he added. “Half the team were trying and the other half were walking around expecting the others to do their jobs.
“I didn’t want to leave, but I couldn’t see any alternative unless some of the players changed their attitude or they got a new group of players to walk in.
“It’s down to some individuals at the club and it becomes a poison.
“They will know who they are, but they won’t accept it because that’s the kind of people they are. They will deflect it and blame someone else.”
Gray arrived at Welby Road with hopes of repeating his long-term success with Heather St John’s, achieved gradually and piecemeal.
Back in August he told the Melton Times he hoped to be at Holwell for the long haul, to work with and improve local players.
He was quick to praise the application and efforts of much of the squad, but old frustrations soon returned.
“Ian Bitmead was my captain every single game and he changed the way he did things,” Gray explained.
“Even at 35 he bought into everything I wanted which is not easy, but others just reverted to type when things weren’t going their way.
“Last season we fumbled through with a squad which probably excelled itself because we didn’t have a great amount of quality, but the effort and application were there.
“This season we have added some real quality and apart from a couple of games we have been the better team.
“But the main issue was there were certain players that are not willing or able to change the way they do things.
“I can’t work with people that aren’t willing to give their all because they think they know better.”
Gray’s departure leaves the club searching for their third manager in two years.
The club has also yet to find a manager for their reserves team which could be forced to withdraw from the Senior League just a few weeks into its return.
“I asked some of the players that came with me to stay and also my assistants because I don’t want to leave the club in trouble,” he said. “The people here don’t deserve that, but I don’t think they will.
“I’m sure if I stayed we would end the season in mid-table and some of the players would have been happy with that, but I didn’t get into football to be mid-table.”