THIS season has been a difficult watch for Bridport fans.

For the past three campaigns, the Bees have been in decline – a trend coinciding with the loss of Adam Fricker as boss in 2019.

Fricker, a manager widely respected and capable of bringing in quality Western League players, stepped down due to work commitments.

He was succeeded by Rich Robson, who resigned after just 10 games in the job.

Dorset Echo: Jamie Manley, right, succeeded Rich Robson Picture: STEPHEN BARRETTJamie Manley, right, succeeded Rich Robson Picture: STEPHEN BARRETT

Next up was Jamie Manley, the ex-Chard manager departing following a couple of seasons punctuated by the pandemic.

John Godbold took up the mantle but only managed one game before the third national lockdown came in, the coach leaving for a new role in the Middle East in May 2021.

READ MORE: Adam Fricker departs Bridport due to work commitments

His departure gave Rob Marquis a chance to take charge of a young squad, only for the standard of the Western League Premier to unravel the Bees’ plans.

Now, with 24 losses in 25 league games this season, Bridport are searching for a sixth permanent boss in the space of 31 months.

So, what needs to change at St Mary’s Field with relegation to Western League Division One looming?

Current caretaker boss Shaun Annetts believes an experienced manager with good contacts is much needed.

He told the Bridport News: “There are things that need to be improved off the field, without a shadow of a doubt.

“I will have been at every Premier side this year and I see things happening at other clubs that we don’t see at Bridport.

“On the field, it was Rob’s and John Godbold’s vision and what they were asked to do – give youth a chance to play for Bridport’s first team.

Dorset Echo: John Godbold came in as Jamie Manley's replacement Picture: STEPHEN BARRETTJohn Godbold came in as Jamie Manley's replacement Picture: STEPHEN BARRETT

“I admire that thought but clearly the team has fallen well short of what is required at this level. That, in my opinion, was always going to be the case.

“What does it need going forward? A manager that has good contacts and can attract players from outside of the town.

“Players that have ideally played in the Toolstation Premier before or maybe the Wessex League.

“If they can do that, then the club will improve. It can’t be a short-term thing. Hopefully someone will come in and build over a few seasons.

“It definitely needs a major recruitment of players that are committed and good enough to play at this level.”

Bridport Reserves’ boss Chris Herbst echoed Annetts’ thoughts.

“We’ve said we almost need to go backwards to go forwards. It just needs a regroup,” he said.

“We need players coming to the club not just for X amount of money, because you want to play for the club.

“The next manager that comes in is a massive appointment.

“He needs to bring in five or six experienced players in and it’s not that easy.

“There has been some interest and it’s just picking the right man. You’re not going to know until they’re in the job.”

Bridport chairman Adrian Scadding denied a reduction in budget from Fricker’s era to the present day was down to the Bees’ slide in results.

Dorset Echo: Rob Marquis parted ways with the Bees just before Christmas Picture: STEPHEN BARRETTRob Marquis parted ways with the Bees just before Christmas Picture: STEPHEN BARRETT

“He had exactly the same, he didn’t have any more – we wouldn’t give any more,” Scadding revealed.

“(The money) is definitely there but the pandemic has affected the players’ attitude where they’ve had time off and think: ‘Oh God, we’ve got to play football this Saturday’.

“I think it’s something to do with that. I was talking to a local pub I go to. It’s dead.

“It’s not because people are afraid to go in there, it’s because they’ve decided to drink at home and they’ve got a different way of life now.”

On attracting players to the club, he added: “It’s hard to attract players – I don’t know what we can do.

“We’ve got a brilliant pitch, state of the art changing rooms, underfloor heating, good clubhouse, what else do you need?”

Marquis, the most recent manager, thinks modern life could be to blame for players’ unavailability.

“They clearly need more players of Western League quality within the club,” he said.

“I’m not saying anything pointed when I say that, they’ll understand.

“There’s also the concern these days of the love of the game. I don’t want to sound like a dinosaur, but we all played with squads of 15 and we were committed.

“We used to work Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings back in the day.

“These days it’s people’s work patterns, families and various other things.”

Marquis attempted to persuade the Bees to bring in a commercial manager to boost the club’s playing budget.

He added: “There are several extrinsic things that would’ve assisted within the role, however I did take the role on knowing what it was.

“I think a commercial manager, the way football is going, would be a very wise step. It would produce funding.

“And probably having someone more social media savvy, with some positive publicity for the club.”

So, not only must the new manager turn results around they require new players, possibly more budget and one eye on the digital arm of the club.

Their work is cut out – and they’re not even in the job yet.