GARY Caldwell clearly isn’t at Partick Thistle to win any popularity contests. The Firhill manager has shown that with his ruthless approach as he tries to take the club where he feels it needs to go.

In fairness, Caldwell accepts that he was always going to be swimming against the tide of public opinion coming into the job as he did after a club legend in Alan Archibald. Since then, he has also dispensed with another two in the shape of Chris Erskine in January, and this week, Kris Doolan.

Understandably, such moves have hardly endeared him to a large section of the Thistle support, but after keeping the Jags in the Championship last term, the 37-year-old is adamant that there is no room for sentiment as he looks to conquer his next goal of taking the club back to the top-flight.

For now, he says he can bear the slings and arrows coming in his direction from his own club’s fans, with the only concession he asks being that they don’t take it out on the team when a crucial season kicks off in August.

“Kris is a legend at this football club and what he has done will never be taken away, but we can’t live in the past,” Caldwell said.

“We have to live in the here and now and we have to try to build a team for the future that is capable of competing at the opposite end of the league than what we have been.

“This club has battled relegation for two seasons, so the group of players I inherited had been used to that, so we had to change the dynamic of the changing room.

“Kris has been good for me on the pitch, he’s scored some goals, but he would say himself that he would like to score more goals. As a club, and I include our support in this, we can’t live on past glories. We have to look at the future and make sure we are a competitive team.

“The fans have to trust me to make those decisions to help us do that.

“I don’t need the fans to like me, I don’t need the fans to sing my name, I need the fans to get behind the team.

“I accept that Archie is a club legend, I accept that Dools is, and I hope that one day I am, but I understand that at this moment in time, they have memories and allegiances to those people.

“What I need now from the fans is support in terms of getting behind the team, being really positive at the start of next season, because if they are not, no matter what I do or how many good players we bring into this club, it’s going to be very difficult to change the reality of losing games that has been the norm at this club for two seasons.

“I really need the fans, not to like me, but to support the team the best they can because when they do like at Palmerston and the two games against Ayr, they are amazing. We need them to do that right from day one next season.”

What Caldwell surely realises too though is that from that opening day next term, he has increased the pressure on his own shoulders tenfold. Patience from the stands, when you factor in the unpopular calls he has made, is likely to be in short supply.

“I’m paid to make these tough decisions, and I know only too well that if I get it wrong, I lose my job,” he said. “That’s the harsh realities of the world that I work in.

“I’m the guy that takes the fault for everyone. Therefore, I have to make the decisions that I feel are right for this football club, and that will bring success.

“We had a similar reaction when Chris Erskine left, and I said at that time, the fans have to trust me and believe in what we are doing, and I think the second half of the season showed that the calls we made in January were right.

“The reality is that the team we put together from January were fighting up, they were always up in the top four of that league.

“Are we happy with that? Of course not, but it shows progress and it showed that what we did was right.

“Now the fans have to believe in that, they have to buy into that and get behind us, because we want to go for that top place next season and we can’t do that without the fans behind us.

“If the fans aren’t behind us then it is impossible, because you need unity, you need to be pulling in the same direction, and hopefully they can see that I know what I’m doing.

“They have to trust the process and trust the decisions we make this summer are all geared towards us competing at the top end of the table next season.”

If some in the Thistle support can grudgingly accept the departure of Doolan, the manner of it was all the harder to stomach. There was no farewell runout in the final game of the season against Queen of the South, and the player himself detailed on radio on Thursday night how the announcement came out from the club before he had a chance to tell his own family. But Caldwell explained: “We’re here to win football games, and at Palmerston, Shea Gordon got injured late in the game.

“We had to make a sub to bring a midfielder on, so that just wasn’t where my head was at and I don’t think it would have been where Kris’s head was at either.

“We then had to let our fans know what was happening and let them know the situation. Kris was the first person to know the decision, and after that the club announced it. I don’t know how you do that any other way.

“Do we keep it in house, does Kris want to announce it? I don’t know. I think we did it the right way.

“In the modern world there’s a clamour for us to tell everyone everything and put big thankyous on Instagram, but maybe I’m a bit old school in that regard. When I played for clubs, you did your service and if it ended, you moved on and went to another club and tried to do your best.

“That is football, and nothing will change what Kris done at the club. It’s in the history books, it will always be there, and the fans can always look back on that and enjoy those moments, but when you make the decision then there’s no easy way to do it.

“It’s not a nice thing to do, I didn’t enjoy telling any of the players that there is no future for them at this club, especially the younger players.

“We’re not here though to run a kind of boy’s club where we are just helping people along. We have to be fair to people and honest with them, and I think we did that.”