Tim Dudding’s message to the AFC Rushden & Diamonds players is a perfectly simple one: “nothing changes”.
It’s been a crazy couple of days at Hayden Road after the bombshell news of manager Andy Peaks deciding to leave the club after eight years in charge to take over at Southern League Premier Central rivals Tamworth, despite Diamonds sitting in the play-off places.
The club moved quickly to install their academy head of scholarship at Moulton College Dudding and remaining first-team coach Scott Carlin in interim charge and they have now been tasked with preparing the team for Saturday’s clash at Biggleswade Town.
That move does offer continuity with Dudding and Carlin having worked with the first-team squad all season, alongside their roles with the academy set-up at Moulton.
After news of Peaks’ departure broke on Tuesday night, yesterday (Wednesday) was a day to offer reassurances to the squad and Dudding is adamant that changes in the way they go about things will be limited with the opportunity to secure a play-off place firmly in Diamonds’ own hands.
“The good thing is that I have been in training with the lads since pre-season last year,” Dudding said.
“I have been working with them so they all know who I am.
“I live in Worcester so that’s why I am not at many games. Any midweek games, I have been at and worked with the team and been on the touchline so it’s nothing out of the ordinary. My role as head of football at Moulton College means I stay here during the week,
“The point is, and my message to the players when we were chatting yesterday was this, nothing changes.
“It’s a case of everyone taking a deep breath and we will carry on as we were and go and play in a way that is correct and do what we have been doing.
“There’s no drastic formation changes, there’s none of that nonsense of coming in and changing the way we play.
“I said to the players quite clearly that it is their hard work that has got them to this point so we will carry on as we were.”
Dudding paid his own tribute to the departing Peaks and admitted there is a full recognition from within the squad for the job he did at leading them on an incredible run over the last four months that has seen them storm into the top five.
But, at the same time, things always have to move on in football.
“Peaksy is a great guy and, as a result of that, when you are a good guy in football, you are a loss to anyone because you are a good guy working in football,” Dudding added.
“The players do recognise he was a good guy who worked hard and, in that sense, they all have the greatest amount of respect for him.
“But the next conversation that comes, particularly from the experienced lads, is that this is football.
“Staff changes happen, personnel changes happen, player changes happen and sometimes it happens quite quickly so it’s all about how you react to that.”