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Ex-Saint Tom says Baird is the man to take Eastleigh up
IAN Baird is the right man to lead Eastleigh to promotion next season.
So says Tommy Widdrington, who takes his Eastbourne Borough side to the Silverlake Stadium tomorrow.
Widdrington was linked with Baird’s job last year, but joined Blue Square South with Eastbourne two months ago and has steered them away from the relegation zone in recent weeks.
“That was 12 months ago ago, Eastleigh’s a club I know well from my time with Salisbury but there are new people there now and Ian has done a good job,” said Widdrington.
“Ian’s teams are always well drilled and strong, he’s got a proven track record in this league and more often than not he’s finished in the top half.
“Eastleigh have faltered a little of late but with the finances they’ve invested they’ll be looking to finish the season well.”
There have been calls for Baird to be replaced as manager following last week’s 6-1 drubbing at Boreham Wood.
The Spitfires have rejoined Eastbourne in the bottom half of the table following that third successive defeat.
Baird is looking for a positive response.
“Is my job safe at Eastleigh? It’s been said in no uncertain terms what’s expected between now and the end of the season but that’s not for me to say,” he said. “What I can say is that we owe it to our supporters to get a result against Eastbourne, especially those who witnessed our humiliation at Boreham Wood.
“I can understand where the supporters are coming from.
“What was served up last week was unacceptable and the players owe it to themselves as much as anyone not to allow a repeat.
“But we had a positive meeting on Tuesday.
“I told the players I didn’t want any miserable faces because a lot of people are worse off than us.”
Baird is looking forward to Eastbourne’s visit.
“I’ll be shaking Tommy’s hand, he’s done well to get Eastbourne winning games again,” he said.
“I thought they’d be promotion contenders when we played them at the start of the season.
“They were in a false position with the squad they’ve got.”
Baird signed “no-nonsense defender” Gary Elphick from Eastbourne in January and he is available tomorrow.
Winger Damian Scannell is also in contention after recovering from injury.
Former Saints midfielder Widdrington, whose family still live in the area, took over at Eastbourne at the beginning of February.
Unbeaten in five, the Sussex side have won their last three, including an eye-catching success over leaders Woking.
“I didn’t take over a bad side, they’d just forgotten how to win but the confidence is starting to come back,” he warned.