First day in the Guiseley manager's job
I was certainly given a warm welcome when I arrived at Nethermoor Park, home of Guiseley AFC, this morning. The whole day flew by in a whirlwind of activity and I can honestly say it was the busiest day I've had for a long, long time.
Chairman Phil Rogerson (pictured) met me in the car park and wasted no time getting down to business. He summarised what we'd discussed at the interview and confirmed yesterday over the telephone, and then we signed the contract on my £110.00 per week part-time deal that runs to 30th June 2015. Nothing has changed, I still think Phil is someone I can work with.
The Skrill North expectation is to finish in a respectable league position with a transfer budget of £2,100.00 and a wage budget of £5,635.00 per week (currently Guiseley AFC are spending £4,938.00 per week on wages).
Guiseley AFC are still in the FA Trophy and my first game in charge will be a 3rd Round away tie at Hednesford Town, who are also in the Skill North division.
There are no agreed philosophies and I have not made any board requests... yet. Although we haven't agreed any philosophies, I like my teams to play an attacking brand of possession football when we have the ball and to hassle and close down opponents when they have the ball. Whether it will be possible to play attacking possession football with this group of players in Skrill North remains to be seen. My preference is for 4-4-2 or 4-1-2-3.
Meeting my staff
Phil introduced me to my Assistant Manager Chris Hollands before leaving us to it. Chris brought me up to speed about the squad, the current injury list (which seems quite substantial), the upcoming fixtures, and our recent games. He put the disappointing league position (14th in Skrill North) down to injuries and expressed his disappointment that the board had decided to sack my predecessor Mark Bower... before saying he looked forward to working with me. It sounded like an after thought and I wondered if he'd wanted the job himself. If he said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," once, he must've said it a dozen times.
Then Chris introduced me to the rest of my back room staff - all three of them - Paul Butterworth my head of youth development, Martin Stringfellow my head physio, and Gavin Tait my chief scout. To be fair, there were another four staff members, who all worked with the Under-21 and Academy players, but they weren't currently here.
Guiseley AFC Squad
I'd hoped to meet the players but, as this was a Friday and most of them were working, I wouldn't get to meet them until the following day at Hednesford ahead of our 3rd round FA Trophy tie.
I did get to meet two of the players though as both the captain Andy Holdsworth (pictured) and vice-captain Michael Potts had turned up at Nethermoor to meet me. We had a good chat, they were both receptive to my ideas and didn't hold back about voicing opinions on how we could improve performances and results, and I liked their attitudes. If the rest of the squad had similar attitudes I felt we had a good chance of doing well.
The first team squad I'd inherited had 18 players, 15 of our own and three on loan. For tomorrow's FA Trophy game, five of them were out injured and loanee Joe Colbeck was cup-tied. Clearly my biggest problem wouldn't be picking a starting 11, but finding 16 fit players to make up the squad.
I asked Chris, my Assistant Manager, to run through the senior players who would be available for selection - all 12 of them - and the positions they could play and then I asked Paul, my Head of Youth Development, to tell me about the most promising youth players we had. I gave him a shortlist of six and asked him to ring them and confirm which ones were available tomorrow.
Well I wouldn't really call it a Press Conference as there was only the chairman, me, and journalist Liam Butler from the Non-League Paper in attendance. I answered Liam's questions as honestly as I could but didn't give anything away as far as tactics or transfer targets were concerned. I was delighted to be the manager of Guiseley AFC, I felt the board's ambitions for the club met my own, everybody (both players and staff) would be given the opportunity to prove themselves, and I fancied our chances in the FA Trophy against Hednesford Town. I didn't tell him that I had no idea how I was going to find 16 players for the squad or that I didn't know how I was going to play my preferred 4-4-2 without a senior left midfielder available to me.
End of a busy day
I left Nethermoor Park with the DVDs of all Guiseley AFC's games this season. I intended to watch as many as I could when I got home in an attempt to find someone who could play left midfield for me in the cup-tie tomorrow.
At this point, I had no idea what formation I was going to utilise tomorrow. It reminded me of my days playing Sunday League Football where the manager would write down the names of the players who had turned up and then attempt to pick a team from them.
I was excited about my first game in charge of Guiseley AFC tomorrow but, before then, it was going to be a long night...