(Photo: Action Images)
By Matt Badcock
PAUL COX says Guiseley shouldn’t be scared to dream big – and he plans to instil a new DNA at the club.
The 45-year-old, who resigned from Barrow a fortnight ago amid suggestions he was fed up with background politics, is already back in management with the struggling Lions after they sacked Adam Lockwood.
He takes over with the team second from bottom in the National League with just one win in their opening eight games.
Cox’s CV certainly suggests he knows how to turn things around having taken Mansfield to the Conference title in 2013.
And last season his Barrow side were unbeaten for 26 games before a stretched squad fell away from the play-off chase later in the season.
Cox says the chance to build a football club that has an open ambition to reach the Football League is why he took the job on – but he knows short term they have to start getting results.
“We had a good sit down at the first training session,” Cox said. “Like I always do with players, it’s about having an understanding of where they are in their minds. The first training session told me an awful lot about them. They worked extremely hard, the desire is there, and over the next week – which I think is key now – it’s putting a plan together for the players, and see which group is going to take us forward and improve us.
“Obviously results don’t lie. Managers lose their job because results have been poor. I’ve got to be analytical of what’s been going wrong. You can’t lie because there has to be something going wrong for results to be as poor as they were.
“Psychologically it’s important I know where the players are, that they’re not getting too down about themselves. They’ve got some good players, it’s just about putting them into that system of organisation and structure so everybody knows their responsibilities.
“The team, at the minute, hasn’t really got a DNA. These are all things I want to put in at the early stages before we move onto the next phase.”
Cox has told his players they all have a clean slate going forward and he believes creating an identity for both the team and the club is key.
“Football is a business now, it’s not just about putting 11 good players together and hoping they click,” Cox said. “There’s a need to put together good teams that have an understanding of where they are and not being too scared to have high ambition.
“You’re not going to be successful if you go out there thinking you’re just going to make up the numbers. That mindset has to change.
“Now, that’s not going to change overnight. The group is probably a bit low on self-esteem and confidence because football tends to do that to you when you’re not winning.
“What they’ve got to do, I use the term all the time, is earn the right to become confident and become a team that can walk into any ground at this level of football and teams know they’re going to be in a game.”
Cox says that starts with changing the culture and mindset within the club, much like he did at previous club Barrow. “I spoke about it when I went into Barrow,” Cox said. “I felt the first couple of games we took – especially away from home – people weren’t taking us seriously. It was, Barrow are a team used to being in the bottom four of the National League or the top four of the North.
“You have to change perceptions of you, but you have to earn that right. No one is going to roll over and give it to you. We need to change the culture. If you have the mindset that you are a small club, you’ll always be a small club.
“It’s perhaps not quite the same, but look at the way Forest Green have grown over a number of years into a power. I know they’ve got a wealthy benefactor but I do think you can become fashionable if you think big.
“I saw the same at Barrow. People start to talk about you as a top ten club, then a top eight club. All of a sudden the culture in the football club has belief.
“You can turn a club around by getting better players but is a quick fix. To build the mindset is a lot harder. Players want to be part of a winning club, supporters want to watch a winning club. That all starts with a change of culture.”