Hastings United manager Chris Agutter has urged supporters to trust him and the football club as he builds for what he hopes will be a successful future.
Results have largely been poor so far this season and Simon Johnson, who was captain of the side, looks to have played his last game after telling the club he wants to leave.
The club stated on its website this week its intention to build a young team supported by some experienced local and, where available, players from away, that is capable of challenging for promotion.
Agutter said: “I think there needs to be an element of trust with the direction the club’s going in. The fans need to trust myself, the staff and the directors. There’s no decision that’s made for any other reason than what’s best for Hastings United.”
Hastings have given Johnson, who won the club’s players’ player and supporters’ player of the season awards last term, permission to speak with other clubs.
The popular midfielder is contracted to Hastings until the end of the season and any club wishing to sign Johnson must agree arrangements that are acceptable to Hastings.
“I’ve got a great deal of respect for Simon Johnson,” said Agutter. “A lot of players in his situation wouldn’t have had the minerals to come and have an honest conversation. Simon’s held his hand up and said ‘I’m not enjoying it’.
“Simon’s been great for me as a club captain, but ultimately he doesn’t want to be at the club and you can’t have a club captain who doesn’t want to be here. It’s best for all parties that Simon moves on.
“He’s a great lad and I’ve got nothing but respect for him, but if your heart’s not in it, you’re never going to produce the sort of form that’s required of a club captain.”
Agutter added that Johnson will not play for the first team again, but once he gets over what may be a recurrence of his thigh injury, he will play for the development squad to regain/maintain fitness.
The club also mentioned in a statement on Sunday that it had provided Johnson with a substantial remuneration package since he signed a contract in August 2015 and recently paid out considerable sums to get him back to fitness following injury.
Johnson looks set to become the latest high profile player to leave the club over the last few months.
“The players that have left are all players that are part of a regime that’s failed to get out of this league,” said Agutter. “It’s not as if we’re losing players that have got us promotion. These are players that have been at the club for three years maximum and the club’s still sitting at what’s ultimately a poor level of football.”
From departures to arrivals and Agutter was this week hoping to bring in Dajon Golding from fellow Bostik League Division One South club Phoenix Sports, plus an un-named winger.
Of Golding, Agutter said: “He’s a left winger or attacking midfielder. A big, powerful, mobile lad and he’s a player on the way up. He fits the right profile of player we want.”