I am not sure why I was considered, but I suggest it was down to desperation and a last resort after all other alternatives had been explored, but for reasons I am yet to fathom I’m currently coaching a football team.
Now as decisions go this is akin to Southampton’s decision to appoint Steve Wigley as manager or Charlton in their hour of need turning to the steadying influence of Les Reed, well for steadying influence substitute giving a drunk the wheel of an out of control bus. However unlike those two behemoths of the game, I have no experience in coaching whatsoever. I fear by taking this position that I will become another pumped up tracksuit wearer who assumes just because he’s seen a few matches in his time that he can also manage as well.
In fact in the past I have spoken out against young players being coached by a local skip merchant or candlestick maker. I was entirely against the idea that any Tom, Dick or Harry could take a rag tag bunch of misfits and transform them into a collective bunch of world class athletes merely by shouting at them and teaching them a rather crude offside trap. The real world is not after all a mighty Ducks film.
And yet here I am becoming what I complained about, hypocrisy being my name. This was though in my defence a chance to get something good out of a job that I struggle in at times and one should always look to improve their CV so without much hesitation I accepted the post.
I signed the contract, spoke to the press and posed for a photo with the club scarf, well in all truth I did none of those things but I felt it added something to this piece.
My decision to accept this role was made an awful lot easier when I realised I would be working alongside a colleague who has actually been on the books at a club and knows a fair bit about the game. He also had the experience of taking over the running of a side last year. His experience and football knowledge should be enough to cancel out my man on the terraces tactics, namely: “Hoof it” and “man and ball, I want to see blood coming from his knees”.
Now with the management team in place, and with a bit of free time before any training sessions, we went on the lookout for some inspiration. We knew nothing of the players, or anything about what type of formation we would play, but as many people in the modern world do when in search for something inspiring we went straight to YouTube.
And through a quick search, and bypassing the urge to put on the music from Rocky, we found just the video we required; “The Impossible Job” a documentary about Graham Taylor’s final days as England manager. If we were, as we expected, to fail at this job, we were going to do it properly. If you’ve seen it, and if you haven’t you should watch it, you’ll be more than aware that it makes management look as ridiculous as you can imagine. It’s also changed my previously mentioned terrace tactics to the far more prosaic “Can we not knock it?” and “Do I not like that?”
If we fail we’ll fail like Taylor, and if we succeed it might just be because we learned a bit from his mistakes. In no particular order we are Taylor and Neal, and we’re still on the search for a suitable Lawrie McMennemy. Football tacticians need not apply.
And so there we were plotting our success, a pair of yes men searching eBay for England training tops from 1992 because modern management is all about how you look, and wondering if the first training session is the place to talk about the significance of restarts.
Our own impossible job was about to start and with the first training session looming, it was yet to become clear if we’d create a team of cohesive fluency or a team of cloggers with a modern day Carlton Palmer holding the midfield together with all the grace of a dog chasing a balloon.
All that I do know is that a proper manager should not be bemoaning the modern parents distaste for the names Carlton and Les, and perhaps the desire to rebuild a version of the England team at their very worst should not be at the forefront of a coach’s mind.
So with all the prep work done it was now merely a case of sitting around and hoping that something good would turn up at training. The real work though would begin on the training ground, and I went there with one thought on my mind…if we’ve got a keeper, well that’s a start.
(Keep an eye out for Part II)
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