I started the career as an unemployed manager with my true experience as a Sunday League Footballer, and no coaching badges.
Fortunately it didn’t take too long for me to catch a break, as I was approached by Boston United of the National League North in October.
Season 1 – Boston United, National League North
Media Prediction: 10th
Board Expectations: Mid Table Finish
With Boston underperforming in the league and already out of the FA Cup, I was tasked with steering them away from the relegation places and into mid table.
Despite there being some good quality in the squad, I just couldn’t get things to work, which I put down to my lowly reputation as the players support was never behind me.
After a poor run of form I was sacked with the club just outside the relegation places in March, and genuinely fearing that this save was needing some lower reputation leagues to be loaded in the summer.
On the plus side, I learned some lessons on squad management from this, and also had the club put me through my National C Licence, so I am in a better position than I was before this job.
League Record: P:27 | W:7 | D:8 | L:12 | F:30 | A:35 | Pts:29
League Position: 20th (at time of leaving)
FA Cup: Already out when arrived
FA Trophy: 2nd Round (Chester)
Season 2 – King’s Lynn Town National League North
Media Prediction: 7th
Board Expectations: Finish in the Play-offs
During the summer I was approached for an interview by two clubs in the regional National Leagues.
King’s Lynn Town, one of Bostons rivals, and Hemel Hempstead. I felt like the interviews went well at both clubs, but I was offered the job by King’s Lynn first, so I gleefully took the job.
Despite being a promotion chasing club, King’s Lynn had finished lower than Boston last season. As such I was left with only a small squad, but with plenty of wage budget to bring in reinforcements, so I drafted in 17 players (six on loan) and was pretty happy with the squad I had assembled.
We flew out of the blocks when the season started, scoring 13 goals in our first four matches, which were all won. We kept up our good form all season and, despite Brackley showing amazing form to stick with us, we clinched the title with two matches to spare.
As form was so good during the first half of the season the board allowed me to take the National B course.
In the second half of the season they allowed me to go on the National A course as well, so I have upgraded my coaching badges to the National A Licence.
League Record: P:46 | W:31 | D:9 | L:6 | F:80 | A:30 | Pts:102
League Position: 1st
FA Cup: 4th Qualifying Round (FC Halifax)
FA Trophy: 2nd Round (Billericay)
Season 3 – King’s Lynn Town, National League
Media Prediction: 22nd
Board Expectations: Fight bravely against relegation
After promotion was sealed I renewed the contracts of most of my squad, as they were mainly young players who had the potential to move up.
I re-signed a loanee RB that we had last season and also brought in a previously on loan CM on a permanent deal.
We lost all of our wide men during the summer, and had an almighty struggle finding replacements with my scouts clearly believing there is a dearth of right side midfielders in particular. Still, I managed to strengthen what I thought was already a decent squad eventually, with cover out wide as well.
We started the season in an inconsistent manner, but started to find our feet at this level and moved our way up to 10th spot, just 5 points behind the play-off places.
At this point my name was being linked with other jobs, with me rejecting interviews with Kidderminster (who were bottom of the National North at the time), Eastleigh and Halifax (who were both in the relegation places in the National League).
Before long though, I was offered an interview from League Two strugglers Newport, which was swiftly followed by an interview with Yeovil (who were lower in League Two). The interviews with both went well, and when Newport offered me the job, I decided it was time to move over to South Wales.
During the close season I asked King’s Lynn if I could earn my Continental C Licence. They were a bit nervous as they didn’t want me to move on, but I reassured them by saying I couldn’t see it.
I completed the course 3 days before being offered the Newport job, so I guess they were right!
League Record: P:20 | W:7 | D:8 | L:5 | F:28 | A:22 | Pts:29
League Position: 10th (at time of leaving)
FA Cup: 1st Round (Oldham)
FA Trophy: Did not reach
Season 3.5 – Newport County, League Two
Media Prediction: 18th
Board Expectations: Mid Table Finish
Before I took a training session with Newport we were 17th in the table, which made me think they had been a little harsh on the previous manager. This also made me a little nervous ahead of the job!
They had lost in the FA Cup already, which might have been the reason for the sacking, as they lost to Port Vale who were lower than them in the table.
League Record: P:18 | W:5 | D:6 | L:7 | F:19 | A:25 | Pts:21
FA Cup: Port Vale (1st Round)
So once I took my first training session I saw some positive signs, with a young squad full of potential (albeit seven of them in on loan) and a nice mix of older players too.
The players took to my way of playing very quickly, and we even caught the play-off places before the new manager bounce ended, and boy, did it end!
We were hammered 7-0 (yes, seven!) by title-chasing AFC Wimbledon, and this led to a shocking run of results, which saw us drift back down the table to 15th. After the encouraging start I reset my aim back to finishing in mid-table again, and after tweaking a couple of things, we managed to turn the tide.
Another excellent run saw us have an outside chance of a play-off spot on the last day. If we could beat lowly Yeovil at home and both Plymouth and Oldham lost, we would be in.
Sadly we couldn’t break Yeovil down in a frustrating 0-0 draw, so we’re in League Two for another year.
At the end of the season I asked the board if I could take the Continental B Licence course, to which they agreed, so mid-way through next season I will hopefully have that under my belt as well.
League Record: P:46 | W:20 | D:13 | L:13 | F:62 | A:50 | Pts:73
League Position: 9th
EFL Trophy: 3rd Round (Tottenham Hotspur U23s)