WHEN I spoke to my old player Shaun Derry before he took the Notts County job, I gave him two pieces of advice.
One: make sure you go into the job with your eyes open. And two: be brave enough to fight your corner. If you walk in and think management is just coaching players and picking the team on a Saturday, you’ll be in for a rude awakening.
There’s a lot of politics in and around the boardroom.
When you get older, you don’t accept a lot of the nonsense that goes on. When you’re a first-time manager, like Shaun, you don’t know any better.
That’s a learning process, but when the average tenure of a manager is 14 or 15 months, you realise how difficult it is.
But no matter how old you are, you must have the confidence to stand up to the board. If you don’t, you’ll only go one way.
Of course, my other piece of advice to all young managers is to get a good chairman. And they are few and far between these days. That tells you what a tough job Shaun is facing, but the big plus for him is having Greg Abbott as his assistant.
Greg’s hugely experienced from his time at Carlisle and a man I’ve got a lot of time for. I don’t think they’re particularly close friends, but he’ll be a great guy to lean on and together they have the makings of a good team.
Shaun’s been interested in coaching for a good few years now. He always used to pick my brains, and he’s been doing the same to Harry. He took the reserves at QPR for a while. You can tell he’s excited about it.
He’s a shrewd character and I think he’s bright enough to pick out all the good things he’s seen managers do and discard all the bad.
He a quietly-spoken lad, a thinker really. A nice family man. But he’s passionate about his football and hard as nails on the pitch.
I used to think of Shaun as my manager on the pitch. Every manager needs one of those. That’s why it’s a shame that he’s retired. Player-manager is an impossible job and long term I’d always advise against it.
But I think for this season he could have taught his players an awful lot by playing alongside them.Over the years, he’s proven himself to be a class act on the pitch.
Now he’s got to do it all over again in the dugout.
NOW PICK SAINT NATHANIEL TOO, ROY
GREAT to see Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana get called up for England. Now I hope Roy Hodgson goes a step further and picks their Southampton team-mate Nathaniel Clyne.
These days, everybody looks at what full-backs do going forward. But for me Nathaniel is the best defensive right-back around. You’ll very rarely see him get a chasing.
That’s stood him in good stead. He may be young, but he arrived at Southampton with a lot of experience and took to the Premier League like a duck to water.
Like Lallana and Rodriguez, it just goes to show that learning your trade in the Championship for a few years does no harm at all.
IT’S AWFUL PLAYING AGAINST AN UNDERDOG IN THE CUP
I spent Monday night watching Shortwood United host Port Vale in the FA Cup. Without being disrespectful, I’ve never heard of them – and as someone who started out at Gainsborough and Burton, I know almost every Non-League club.
For me, commentating on the game for BT, it’s great. But down in the away dressing room, Micky Adams will be having an awful time. It’s horrible when you’re a league manager and you visit a small team who you’re expected t o beat comfortably.
All you can do is win – anything else is a disaster. Fortunately for me, I was never beaten by a Non-League side. I always managed to come through. As a manager, you love being an underdog. It’s the easiest game of the year. You can’t lose.
It’s a horrible feeling for Micky because you know that everybody is desperate for an upset. And if you are on the end of one, it can have terrible consequences. I think I’ve been dismissed twice in FA Cup third round week. By January, the FA Cup is often the only thing a team has got left to play for.
Lose, and those trigger fingers can give a mighty twitch. Your players have to battle hard. The one thing you know about Non-Leaguers is that they’ll give 100 per cent. Playing you is their FA Cup final. And every player wants to be a hero. Your players have to match that desire. If even two or three don’t fancy it, you’ve got no chance. Yes, the dressing rooms are small, the pitch is often poor. The crowd are tight to the pitch.
But in the end, it’s all in the mind. That’s why you’ve got to have a certain type of player. If you’ve got good pros, the quality will eventually shine through.
DEVASTATING FOR FAURLIN
AWFUL news that QPR’s Ali Faurlin has done his knee. He’s just come back from one cruciate injury and now he’s done the other one.
Ali was instrumental in our promotion in 2011. He is probably the best midfield player I’ve ever worked with. He’s got everything – touch, vision, strength. And I still think there’s so much more to come.
To have another devastating injury like this is a shattering blow and he’s now in for another year of hard work behind the scenes to come back. I hope it’s sooner rather than later.