COLUMN: How Hard Is Football Management?

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

How would Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger have got on managing a non-League club?

Both started their managerial careers at lower levels than the Premier League, but would they have been able to cope any better than your current manager at your non-League outfit? Would they have been able to bring the success you crave?

Simple answer is we`ll never know, but it`s a sure fact that managing at non-League level is just as tough, if not tougher than higher up.

Okay, so perhaps you haven`t got the media attention that Ferguson or Wenger attracted – the constant craving for news from all the difference media sources there are these days.

However, take that away and the fact their teams have to perform in front of 60/70,000 every home game instead of a few hundred perhaps, and the job is very similar.

I am always amazed when I get to see a professional side train. Basically, they coaching sessions are nothing different to ours – the players are just ten times better at it!

Let`s look at the basics.

You`re managing a non-League side let`s say with a small weekly wage budget of perhaps £500 a week.

You now have to find 18/19 players to complete your squad within that budget.

I`ll need at least £50/60 to pay for a decent striker, and then my goalkeeper wants almost as much. It`s then a really tricky balancing act to get the rest for £400!

Ferguson and Wenger have exactly the same problem, but instead of a budget of £500, they are juggling with one of millions!

We are due to play a team new to the league this weekend. They got promoted at the end of last season, but I know little about them and they`ve made quite a lot of new signings.

Apart from one or two phone calls to fellow managerial mates from the league they have been prompted from, I have no choice but to take them on blind.

Ferguson and Wenger are also up against new teams promoted from the Championship, but they can watch numerous DVD`s of the opposition and can also call upon several scouts to report on them and also any new signings they have made, so will be well prepared for the games.

We train Tuesday and Thursday nights – perhaps just Thursdays if we have a midweek game.

I really could do with a new left-back but I don`t possess anyone to scout for me and, unless we don`t have a game in midweek, I have little chance of going out to watch a player unless he has a game on that particular midweek we haven`t a game.

I have to rely on word of mouth from a third party and then take pot luck on signing him!

Ferguson and Wenger have a whole army of scouts who trail the world these days in search of talent.

They come armed with all the information on a player that either manager could wish for as well as several DVD`s or YouTube videos of him in action.

We got battered last weekend and desperately need to work on our defensive shape at training before our next game.

The trouble is, when it came to it, two of my back four had to work late on shifts and couldn`t make training, so I couldn`t do anything.

If Ferguson or Wenger`s teams were beaten, they could order their players in on Sunday morning to immediately iron out any problems.

They then have every day to put the situation right.

I have an away game in the FA Cup on Saturday but the club can`t afford a bus or even a minibus, so it`s a case of trying to work out who can and can`t take their cars.

I`ll see if I can get them some petrol money, but the chairman`s a bit funny with that sort of thing and I may need to rely on some help from the supporters` club.

If Ferguson or Wenger have an away game – or even a home game in some cases – then they stay in 5-star luxury hotels overnight and taken to the game by luxury coach.

I desperately need a new playing strip. My current one is missing half the socks and some of the shirts are ripped.

But I don`t know where I am going to find the £400/500 for a new kit.

I might be able to persuade the local chippy to sponsor us.

Ferguson and Wenger`s sides have a new strip for EVERY game and usually swap shirts with the opposition.

Okay, I am not dealing with multi-millionaires or their agents as Ferguson or Wenger do – or should I say did, as these days the managers at top level don`t often actually deal with transfers directly.

But in many ways, the jobs are the same and I would argue that it`s harder or certainly as hard to manage at non-League level as it is at the top of the game.

It`s often argued that managers from lower down the Pyramid are not given opportunities higher up due to the fact that players wouldn`t have the respect for them as they would an ex-pro.

But take a look at Danny Cowley.

He came from managing Concord Rangers in the Essex Senior League at Step 5 to managing full-time professionals at Lincoln City and he certainly didn`t do badly did he!

Managing at any level is difficult.

There are numerous examples of top, top players not cutting it as managers – Sir Bobby Charlton and the late Sir Bobby Moore being two classic examples.

If you work in a foundry shovelling coal all day, there`s no way that tomorrow you`ll be asked to run the company.

But somehow we expect a footballer to come straight off the pitch and into the managers` office!

It also doesn`t follow that good or even excellent coaches will automatically make good managers.

Again, football is littered with examples of coaches not being able to cope when taken off the training pitch and into the office.

Football at all levels has changed, but the role of the manager has altered little and is still an extremely tough job.

But how would Ferguson, Wenger or Jose Mourinho get on managing your non-League club!?

Share.

About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

Comments are closed.