These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

BECOME A MANAGER? YOU MUST BE MAD

Printed in the Southern League South and West League match v Oxford City Saturday 5th April 2008. We lost 2-1 and are now five points adrift and looking certain for relegation. Crowd 198

Seriously, who would want to be a football manager? More to the point after our sixth manager in two seasons, surely you’d have to have a screw loose to want to manage Slough Town?

Steven King, the manager of Lewes, who has made moaning about officials into an art-form, must be scratching his head in disbelief about calls for his head by some supporters on their message board. They’d just lost but they were still second in the league, playing attractive football, gates pushing 800 (with about a third of these children), announcements about more football in the community schemes, massive ground improvements and knocking on the door of the Blue Square Premier. What more do supporters want? No doubt those calling for his head were not amongst the 40 odd fans who spent the season nearly eight years ago watching Lewes facing relegation from Ryman Division Three and almost certain oblivion.

Dario Gradi is the longest serving manager in the football league, managing Crewe for 25 years, but has faced criticism from some Crewe fans. OK the last few seasons haven’t been great, but Crewe survive on unearthing new players and selling them on as their gates are pretty pitiful. Before his arrival they were another bottom of the pile football league basket cases along with the likes of Rochdale and Workington. As Sir Alex Ferguson pointed out : "It's quite easy for me because I've got the motivation of being at a big club with big games every week but Dario has had to be there for over 20 years producing and selling players from his conveyor belt of talent. They've had to rely on that for financial stability but they've sold players time and time again and he still goes in every morning rebuilding. It's a fantastic job he's done, quite amazing. I'm sure he could have left Crewe millions of times so it just impresses me how lucky Crewe are to have a manager like him. He enjoys the challenge of producing young players and I think that is his main motivation."

When Sunderland manager Roy Keane was asked if he enjoyed being a manager recently he replied no. The interviewer continued 'It must be satisfying?' 'I get very little satisfaction from it.' Why do it?' 'I'm not sure. It's obviously a madness. You do it for the challenge. It's in you. It's a buzz. When I stopped playing I thought I could relax. But then I got this challenge from Sunderland. And I enjoy the challenge, even if I get very little satisfaction from it. Maybe a five-minute taste when we win a game. That's why managers are old before they know it. What I love is being in a team game, being part of a team with coaching, medical and scouting staff.'

Supporters have short memories, chairman want quick results, players complain when they are not playing. One week you are a hero, the next you don’t know what you’re doing.

And yet there is never a shortage of those who want to take up the hot-seat.

But Keane hit the nail on the head, it must be being part of a team, especially after you have spent years playing, it comes to an end and all of a sudden choices on a Saturday include being dragged round the shops.

I feel sorry for Betsy and Barney. They started to turn things around off the pitch putting everyone on the same wages, introducing a rule that if you didn’t train you didn’t get a game yet once they were officially appointed the slide towards relegation continued.

And what about Wilko, a Slough legend as a player, who didn’t leave much of a legacy as a Slough Town manager.

So let’s hope new boss Derek Sweetman can stop us being relegated to the Dog and Duck. If he does, he’ll be praised to the hilt. And then, it will be a new season and new demands. Us Slough fans will be expecting at least mid-table or maybe even a play-off fight. Anything less and no doubt people will be getting on the managers back. As they say “You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps.”

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