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Team spirit a massive factor for Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders

By Craig Tucker

The team spirit that’s fuelling Maidstone’s climb up the table is no coincidence.

Manager Jay Saunders won’t sign players on ability alone - he has to be satisfied they will fit in at the Gallagher.

The result is a squad who could hardly be closer and with Stones in the National League play-off places, Saunders is seeing the benefits of his approach.

Team spirit plays a big part at Maidstone Picture: Steve Terrell
Team spirit plays a big part at Maidstone Picture: Steve Terrell

He said: “I’ve always been a big believer that if everyone’s in it together and pulling in the same direction, it will help.

“We’ve got a good group again. They believe in each other, they stick together when maybe things aren’t going so well and, because of that, you get that extra bit out of them when things are going well.

“I’ll always look into what someone’s like as a person before signing them.

“When I go and watch players I try and look into where they’ve been and speak to people that know them and get a little bit of feedback on them. That’s a big thing.

“In the past we’ve had one or two that didn’t fit in and it tends to not work out.

“When you’re day-time training and you’re in a lot more, they’ve got to fit in.

“Don’t get me wrong, people always have little bits they don’t agree with but in general we always do our homework and make sure they’re going to fit in.”

Maidstone boss Jay Saunders Picture: Andy Jones
Maidstone boss Jay Saunders Picture: Andy Jones

There is, of course, more to Maidstone’s form than team spirit, with tactics and no shortage of talent taking them on a run of one defeat in seven games and three wins on the spin.

Saunders, whose side host Gateshead on Saturday, said: “It’s a bit of everything, and that goes through the levels.

“You could have the best players in the world but it doesn’t mean you’re going to do well.

“The players have got to know what you’re asking them to do and you normally find with better players they understand it.

“Then there’s the togetherness and believing in each other that they can do it.

“I’d like to say it’s all tactics but it’s a combination of the lot.

“It helps when you’re winning because they believe in it a lot more.

“It is a combination of everything but the team spirit is a massive thing because when things are going against you, it’s how you react."

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