BLUES boss Carl Garner has admitted that he’s carrying too many passengers on his seemingly sinking ship.
Clitheroe FC’s voyage, particularly in the cup competitions, had been sailing in the right direction.
But a huge wave has overwhelmed that momentum and has prompted Garner to throw men overboard.
An inexplicable defeat to lowly Radcliffe Borough recently ended the FA Cup dream that had once enshrouded Shawbridge.
In the aftermath of that, the Blues were dumped out of the LFA Challenge Trophy by Kendal Town.
And Tuesday night’s FA Trophy replay defeat at home to Salford City did nothing to lift the mood.
Two goals from Josh Hine had sent the Blues into the ascendency at Moor Lane, but a brace from Scott Metcalfe, his second coming in the 90th minute, earned the Greater Manchester outfit a replay.
Once again, Hine did the business as he gave Garner’s men a 20th-minute lead in the re-match, but that was cancelled out by Danny Heffernan’s strike on the stroke of half-time.
Player-manager Rhodri Giggs then sent the visitors in to the next round after scoring in extra-time.
“We’ve missed a lot of sitters and that’s the top and bottom of the game,” Garner said.
“We created chance after chance but couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
“Then Giggs has had one chance and scored.
“We should have won by a four or five-goal cushion.
“Josh Hine has scored seven goals in as many games, and he looks like the only player capable of doing that at the moment.
“If you don’t take your chances, then eventually it’s going to come back and punish you. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
Clitheroe, who had been involved in four domestic cup competitions, now only have the Evo-Stik League Cup to focus on as they travel to Lancaster City on Tuesday for the second round tie.
“We’ve gone out of three cup competitions in a week –all those games were winnable but we’ve just not had enough about us to do it,” Garner said.
“We’ve been dreadful for the past fortnight, but we should still have won the games that we’ve played.
“I’m absolutely gutted. I’m 10 times more gutted than anybody else within the club.
“I’m just floored at the moment because in essence the buck stops with me.
“I put those teams out but some of the players have been a joke.
“Some of the lads have been marvellous and they know who they are. Those lads are carrying the team week after week and it’s not fair.”
Now, in a bid to keep his vessel afloat, Garner plans to use his free weekend wisely by starting the cull in hope of preventing Clitheroe from becoming a wreck at the bottom of the First Division North ocean.
He said: “It’s hard to stomach, but we’ve come to a crossroads now, so I’m going to have to take stock and reduce the squad dramatically.
“There’s too much mediocrity within it, and I think that the sheer size of it is holding us back. We’ve got too many passengers on board.
“We’ve got a blank weekend so I’ve got to make some drastic changes to the whole set-up.
“Players will be moved on so I’m going to be busy. There’s going to be a massive cull.
“We are still at the bottom end of the league table and we need to start climbing that mountain.
“The behaviour of certain players has been despicable.”
But if anybody is capable of captaining the high seas and turning Clitheroe in to a force to be reckoned, with it’s Garner.
His second Manager of the Month award in his first three months of management speaks volumes of his leadership and ability.
“I’m pleased about the award,” said Garner, “ as it shows that there is ability within the squad.
“But it’s just a shame that it’s been over-shadowed by recent results and performances. We’ve gone out of three cup competitions since.
“I was proud when it was announced though.”