Getting The Job
It is not hard to decide what club suits you as a manager, the reality however, is choosing the best available team to fit your needs can lead you to take the best of a bad bunch. As a manager you will always have your underlying motivating values, you might not even know what they are but they are always there, always helping you make decisions. These values can be set from your childhood, they can be set through experiences but when you start to understand them you will start to understand why you do what you do and if you can harness it as a tool you can start to make good decisions for yourself as a manager.
Finding the right job is something that managers often struggle with and you will often find the WhatsApp group full of my piers asking what certain clubs, owners or facilities are like but ultimately one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. My advice is to always start with what motivates you; if you are offered a job by a certain club, work it backwards. A few questions later and you’ll know whether it’s the right club for you or not.
So what motivated me to join my current club? The honest answer is that it happened by chance. I had just come out of an intense board meeting at my previous employer where I was livid with the decisions being made by the pen-pushers when my phone rang. It was a coach that I done some of my badges with:
“I’ve heard there’s a job coming available and I think it’s got your name all over it. Interested?”
The timing of the phone call was everything. I was emotional, I was angry with my current employers and replied without hesitation, ‘Of course I’m interested’.
News of my interest filtered through the relevant channels and a couple of days later the Chairman got in touch via text asking when would be a good time to chat. I had calmed down since the phone call and had some time to think about what would be right for my career, my replies to his text messages were polite but designed to delay me having to meet him whilst I figured out what I really wanted to do. This went on for a couple of weeks, he would text, I would find a reason why we couldn’t meet. It wasn’t until I received a fairly lengthy message that I realised this was more than him testing the water.
‘I’ll be honest, I’m really interested in talking as I’ve had some issues here stopping us moving forward. You know who I’ve spoken to and they speak so highly of you, but I need complete confidentiality with this regardless of the outcome as I’m sure you would also. I’m keen to see if we may take this forward and as you’ve probably heard I’m building something special here that I think you may be interested in being part of. Text me when it’s good for you to talk and let’s move this on?’ – The Chairman.
This message clearly pulled the strings of my motivating values, a new challenge, a family run club, the opportunity to join something special and his recognition of my ability all pushed me towards accepting his invite for that coffee and a chat.
The chat happened on a Monday night, in a Costa coffee shop at Toddington Service stations. Not the most glamorous of locations for a chat, but the Chairman was flying in to Luton airport after a weekend break away and it wasn’t far from me. As with any meeting there is always a risk that someone would see us, take a photo or stir up a fake story on social media but hiding in plain sight seemed okay for this meeting, who could accuse us of tapping up in such a public place?
Luckily, the Chairman arrived at the services in his shorts and flip-flops, I doubt anyone would have put 2-and-2 together looking at the pair of us! The talk was very open and honest, he told me that he hadn’t been happy with the current manager and was disappointed that despite backing, performances were way below what he and the fans expected. He asked my opinion, I said ‘the facilities look great, the squad looks good but they should being doing better’. He then went on to tell me that he wasn’t going to sugarcoat it, there were deep-rooted problems at the club and he needed someone with a strong personality to come in and make the necessary changes. He wants to build a legacy and would be happy to back the right manager but things must change.
What he said next took me by surprise.
“If you give me a yes today, I’ll fire my manager tomorrow.”
He certainly wasn’t backwards in coming forwards, I thought we were meeting for chat which could turn in to something more formal should both parties like what they heard, but clearly he was desperate for change. I told him that I couldn’t give him a yes tonight, but I was interested and I would get in touch over the next couple of days.
When I got home I told my wife about the meeting and that he’d offered me a job there and then. Her first words of reply were ‘if he can sack the manager tomorrow, what would stop him doing that to you?’ – I hadn’t even thought of that, I’m glad that I took the time to consider what this move would do for my career and my family.
The next few days came and went, the Chairman had text me a handful of times asking if I had made a decision and I was still unsure if the move was what I wanted at this point of my career. My agent suggested that we arrange a more formal meeting with the Chairman and other senior figures at the club to discuss the finer points of a potential deal.
We arranged to meet at The Belfry, where my agent had organised us to meet the club representatives in The Sutton Suite and this time we did need to conscious of our surroundings. The Belfry is a popular venue for a lot of people in football and the media so I decided to to check in the night before as not to raise suspicion and my agent advised me that he had booked the suite through his company so the club’s name wouldn’t be mentioned. You can never be too careful as everyone knows everyone in football and it doesn’t take long for rumours to get round and I wanted to be respectful to my current employers and the current manager of the club who’s job I was about to interview for.
The meeting took place, on one side of the table it was me and my agent, on the other side there was the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman, a couple of lawyers and the Chairman’s PA. I tend to leave the negotiations to my agent, he knows my worth and will get me the best deal available. All I’m interested in is that both parties are in agreement with how we will take the club forward. The new club are keen to develop younger players and bring them through to the first team, which is fine with me, but I wanted to understand if this was about future income or part of the legacy he wanted to build, he said the latter and that it had been his dream to see a player from his academy to break in to the first team and become a legend. I can work with that.
With a pre-contract agreed by all parties, the whirlwind begins. The club will now have to make an offer to my current employers and organise the termination of their current manager. I have to tell the wife and get her shopping for houses, I’m sure she won’t mind that! There’s also my current players to consider, none of this is their fault and many of them I’ve signed to be part of my team and now I’m leaving them. That’s football I suppose, loyalty is a commodity that few are wealthy with and for most this won’t be their first rodeo.
A deal was agreed between the clubs which would see me take charge of my new team on July 1st 2019 but there is no time like the present to start preparing for the next chapter.
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Until next time,
The Secret Football Manager.