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RGM Sport – The Insider

The Insider is the voice of someone within sport, anonymously discussing the experiences and issues faced during their career.

This week The Insider is a former footballer and current Non-league Manager.

The changing room can be a scary place after a defeat, as my lads would tell you. I don’t take losing well at all. When I was a kid, I would throw the Monopoly board around if I didn’t win and playing football I would be a nightmare to live with all weekend if we lost. As a Manager, I’m exactly the same.

Because of my nature, I have found the step from player to Manager fairly easy. I have always set out to be a leader on the pitch and within any group I was part of. It seemed like a natural progression for me to coach so once I felt like my playing career was reaching an end, I started to work towards it. I’ve been able to reach out to some of the great bosses I played under and seek their advice, but it isn’t easy being that younger coach who feels they could still play and seeing a potential lack of desire or work rate in my squad.

I’m open and honest with the lads and I work to manage each player accordingly. I tell the players if they need any help, with football or otherwise, I’m a call away. At this level, the mentality of the changing room will change week on week depending on results first, but player confidence also comes from issues at home with family too and work outside of football. If I don’t initiate that conversation, then I won’t learn the characteristics which help explain performance and attitude. To create that trust and just encourage the players to express themselves on the pitch is so important.

As a player, I was once in a dressing room where the whole squad had little respect for the Manager and it showed. But it’s usually the managers fault, isn’t it, and that only finishes one way. As a player you are part of a collective of maybe twenty so there is a bit of leeway and time if things aren’t going right, but as a Manager I am on my own to deliver right now.

So that said, if things aren’t good enough I don’t hang around. Our objectives are clear and the expectations we set are always up around the changing room, so if they fall below being met it is up to me to leave people in no doubt of what is acceptable. To be honest I think a few of my post-match “hairdryers” are still being spoken about now.

Once you have the right squad the changing room takes care of itself and that allows me and my coaching team to focus on what we are there to do, so if a player isn’t right for me or the club then I believe the player has to move on. We then start the search for someone with the right personality to fit the ethos of the club.

You spend all week planning how you are going to play, communicating with players, delivering sessions geared towards securing three points so to win as a Manager is a feeling above and beyond from when I as a player.

You arrive at the ground early, making sure you are the first one there. Then of course, you’re one of the last to leave after the game. I like to thank who I can for coming, but I always like listening to the inevitable feedback you get from supporters – at the end of the day, they are as a big a part in setting the standard as any.

To get home with a win is the best feeling in the world and proves it has all been worth it.

Although the next morning you wake up with big questions, how can you improve? What do we need to go on a run of positive results? And it all starts again.