A week after his arrival at Vanarama National League South club Basingstoke Town and with his first game in charge an extremely valuable 2-0 win over Oxford City, new manager Terry Brown…..
…..spoke about a wide range of topics, starting with how he was offered the job, and what about the opportunity attracted him.
Brown said: “I had a phone call from the club asking would I be interested, very simple really. I’m local to Basingstoke and know the club well, I worked alongside Ernie Howe many years ago when he had a very successful spell here. I was looking around for a new challenge, obviously I’m out of work and the potential of this club being on my doorstep was definitely too good to miss.”
With the club currently at the bottom of the National League South table, Brown was extremely honest and up front about the situation.
“I think it’s fair to say it’s a rather large ask to win six out of seven or whatever, people can do the maths and say it’s not done yet, but we’ve won seven games all year. It’s my job just to hopefully inject a bit of that new manager buzz into the club, which most new managers get, regardless of whether they’re a screaming maniac or a sensible adult. I’ve seen plenty of the squad over the last year or so, I know the league and I know the other teams. I know we’ve got a lot of talent which the players proved over the last few years.
“I’m not going to set the players targets like winning six out of seven, all we can concentrate on is each Saturday – I know it’s a managers cliche but that’s just the way it has to be right now! I want to chat to the players, find out what system makes them feel most comfortable, how they like playing and what sort of lads they are. I do want to put a little onus back onto the players as well – say to them that they’ve got us into this mess so they need to take the opportunity to get us out of it.
“I think there’s enough talent within this squad to give the club a chance of survival, and to give the players a chance of being here next year.”
Despite being aware of all the playing squad, Brown knows he needs to give everyone a chance to show what they can do.
“I’ve got to come in with a completely open mind, I’ll do the coaching completely on my own for the moment as well as the management, just so I can get a feel of the sort of characters in the dressing room, as well as the quality available. I want to be finding out what makes them tick, because obviously there are some areas that need improvement.
“I’m determined to give everyone a chance. I will rotate players if we’re out of the ball game at any point, and then try the younger lads. Obviously we need results, and that’s what dictates everything. Those boys lucky to put the shirt on every week better put enough graft in to keep their place!
“I’ve only worked with one player here before, but I’m aware of all the players and have seen them play etc. It’s my job just to try and rekindle that confidence – that’s been the main difference between this year and last year. The team started the year off unable to score goals, and create chances, and that ends up having an effect on the midfield and back four as well, you end up conceding late goals in games you should win. As a manager you then end up making defensive changes that aren’t needed, because actually if you stick two chances away you win the game.”
Brown’s been around as a manager a long time, and is experienced enough to know that one philosophy and style of how to play the game will not be suitable for every job. He spoke of the need for a long-term plan, a vision of where the club wants to be in a few years.
“You’re going to see a slightly different style in the next seven games, to what I want to build over the next few years. I want to be here for two, three, four years or whatever, I’m a planner and I want to plan properly. Where I’ve been successful, those are the clubs where I’ve been allowed time to develop a plan.
“That plan shouldn’t be a dream, it should be a costed reality where we try to take more advantage of the academy down here, and take more advantage of the local talent that we’re blessed with in this area. I come from the area, so I know how much wonderfully gifted young talent we have around here. I think looking at the squad, it needs to get a little younger.
“I think you obviously learn from every job you have. All of them have taught me different things – Hayes, Aldershot, Margate etc. The game keeps changing and we all have to adapt to it – you need to be flexible, work with the squad you have. That can, to a certain extent, only be done with younger players though – we’ve got a fairly senior squad here and my job at the moment is to get them playing to their full potential like they can do, and have shown they can do.”
As a player Brown was a capable striker at this level, and he believes the team’s struggles on front of goal this season are mostly down to self-belief.
“I look at our forward line and I see goals there – but I’ve also watched games where I haven’t seen goals coming. That means I’ve got to get something a little bit extra out of them.
“It is a matter of confidence for strikers. It takes ages to build up that confidence when you play up front, as I did. All my goals used to come in batches, then I wouldn’t score for ages, then one would bounce in off my knee and I’d be off again. I need balls bouncing in off knees (or other parts of the anatomy) for the lads up front, then they can start playing with the flair and confidence and ability they’ve shown over the previous two seasons.”
Brown spoke forcefully about the need for 100% commitment and effort from his sides, and also admitted that in his younger days he wasn’t exactly a calm, serene presence on the touchline!
“Every single club I’ve been at is the same – if a player puts a proper shift in, those fans won’t be caning that lad. If he puts the shirt on and puts a shift in, they’ll see that and appreciate it. All I can ask of my 16 players every Saturday is that they give their all, and I won’t be lambasting everyone who does that and puts a shift in. That’s the reality of fans, they know who’s done that.
“It is interesting looking at the difference a new manager makes when he goes in. You can be a mad screaming Neil Warnock type, who players think ‘oh no’ about, but he goes in and he wins games. There’s no particular logic to it – he goes in, simplifies things, screams and shouts and gives each player their role very clearly, tells them to do it or else, and they start to win games.
“When I started off at Hayes I was a painful screamer and shouter, it was absolute murder and I was probably an idiot on the touchline. You change, develop and mature. Sometimes you do lose a bit of that, and then think ‘I wouldn’t have allowed that to happen a few years ago – I might have been a bit more forceful’. So, when I talk about managers having to change, they do. I think what we need right now is someone to point out the blindingly obvious out there and not just sit in the dugout. Would I rather be a Klopp or a Wenger out there? I’d rather be a Klopp, all day.”
He finished up by explaining exactly what the fans can expect to see every week from a Terry Brown side.
“I like to play football from the back, passing football, tiki-taka if you like. But that’s not going to be feasible at this present time. I’m trying to follow more the Leicester model, where this time last year they were scraping to stay in the Premiership and now they’re probably going to win the league. The lessons to take from that when taking over a new team are there to see; keep it simple, keep a clean sheet, so that’s what I’ll be working on. I know we’ve got problems creating chances and scoring goals, but my main focus right now for the next few games is to fight for our lives and make this place a fortress, fight for our lives to keep clean sheets.
“My playing philosophy over the next eight games will be totally different to my philosophy next season. After the summer I’ll have had a chance to bring some players in, see who can adapt to what systems and roles I like. I’m not paranoid about systems. However, I do think you need to be fairly flexible and take into account what sort of players you have. You need to be like that because after a while people work you out if you only play one way. To do that you need flexible players. I’m not going into any complicated coaching theories over the next seven games – I want blood, thunder, passion and desire.”