IT is perhaps not surprising for a former primary school teacher that John Coleman is always looking for opportunities to learn.

One thing this season has taught him is that Accrington Stanley are not just there to make up the numbers in League One.

Coleman feels they have missed a marvellous opportunity.

Needing to win their last four games to have a chance of a top-six finish, their challenge has fallen short with consecutive 3-3 draws against promotion-chasing Sunderland and Portsmouth.

But while there are two games to go – and significant ones for this afternoon’s visitors Charlton and next week’s hosts Pompey – Coleman already has one eye on next season, having learnt so much from this one.

“That you are capable of doing good things if you apply yourself,” is among his discoveries in the Covid-disrupted 2020/21 season.

“Don’t settle for being happy to be in League One.

“If you are going to be in a league try to contend to win it.

“I’ve always been like that but that possibly wasn’t the case the last couple of years. But I’ve learnt that we can be equals in this league, and there’s no reason why we can’t go up next year.

“You look at teams who would be fancied this season, Doncaster, Portsmouth and Sunderland would definitely come into that equation.

“It’s something like 67 shots we’ve had against the three of them which tells you a lot about how we’re playing and the confidence our lads have got and it’s a pity we can’t convert more of the chances we’re making.

“I think that’s always the Holy Grail for managers that you score with every chance you get or a higher proportion, then you’ve got a chance of being successful.”

Coleman added: “We’ve got to learn from this season that if we can get a little bit more, not so much organised, but a little bit more focused throughout games we can achieve a lot.”

And the Stanley boss said teamwork was at the heart of being able to realise their ambitions.

“You are the sum of all parts aren’t you and sometimes as a team you become stronger,” he said.

“You could maybe have the best players in the world but they can’t play on his own.

“You could even have the best three players in the world but if the others are continually letting them down they won’t win many games. You’ve seen lots of people throw lots of money at football clubs and fail because they haven’t managed to assemble a team.

“It’s difficult, it’s an ongoing process that you’re always trying to modify and get right.”

He added: “It’s ever evolving, and we think we’re stronger than we were last year.

“So that’s got to be a step in the right direction and hopefully we can continue that progress next season.”