Phil Barnes. Photo by JAKE WHITELEY

Disappointed Barnes steps down as Holbeach United boss in bid to help club stave off a relegation fight

Phil Barnes has resigned as manager of Holbeach United after admitting he wasn’t sure he could save the club from being embroiled in a relegation battle.

Club legend Barnes, who won the UCL Premier Division title with the Tigers as a player, steps down after a rocky start to the campaign that has seen the Carter’s Park side fail to register a win in ten games and fall into the bottom two.

He replaced Danny Hussey as Holbeach boss in the summer of 2020, but saw his time in charge blighted by uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fellow Tigers hero Dean Elston, who acted as assistant manager to close friend Barnes, has also decided to leave his role in the dugout.

The pair will continue in charge until Holbeach appoint a new boss, with Barnes hopeful they can bring in somebody with “more contacts” than he perhaps has.

“We both decided to step down after Saturday’s game (2-0 loss to Heather St John’s) and spoke to (chairman) Des Ford on Sunday,” said Barnes. “I’m gutted, but I know it’s the right call.

“There’s no hiding from it, the results haven’t been good enough this season.

“As somebody who loves Holbeach United, it’s hard to look at the table and see us down in the bottom two.

“If I’m completely honest, I don’t think Dean and I feel that we’re the men to turn things around.

“I’m obviously very disappointed. I do feel we’ve had a lot of bad luck this season, but the alarm bells started in pre-season really when a lot of players left and we struggled to get a team together.

“I think the club needs a fresh face with better contacts to we’ve got for this level. My recent knowledge is more younger players – or the older ones I used to play with.

“Before Covid hit, I felt we were in a good place and the dressing room was full of optimism.

“But what we had in place got ripped apart ahead of the season and it’s been tough going on and off the pitch ever since.

“I don’t want to see Holbeach go down and I think the best bet to stop that happening is for a new manager to come in and make changes.

“I’m not throwing in the towel or running away, I just know that me leaving the dugout is the best chance to club has to improve.

“I would like to put on record how thankful I am for Dean’s (Elston) support. Without him I may have walked away sooner, If I’m honest.

“Likewise I’d like to thank Des Ford for his support, plus Neal and Ed from the Reserves. Alan “Lefty” Wright also deserves my thanks for all he does on matchday – the club would be lost without him.”

Barnes, who wouldn’t be drawn on who could replace him in the Holbeach hotseat, expects to lead the Tigers in Saturday’s Uhlsport UCL Premier Division North home clash with mid-table Eastwood (3pm).

But he hopes the club will have his replacement sorted in the not too distant future.

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