You became player / manager of Mickleover Sports FC in 2016. How are you enjoying football management and what would you describe as the challenges of managing a club such as Mickleover Sports FC?
I love managing.I love the aspect of man managing and getting the best out of players. I love the aspect of preparing my squad for games on Saturday. I love assembling a squad pre season and getting the squad ready. In terms as my role as a manger it was the next natural progression for me from playing full time.I had a good a career playing as a professional player for 18 years.I love football and my original player / manager role has changed slightly as I have got older as I turned 40 last week and to be a good manager I have to manage more.
I have reduced my playing time and concentrated more and the management side. The difference is managing a club such as Mickleover Sports FC at semi professional level has it’s up’s and down’s as a manager you are kind of kitman , player liaison and arranging travel to and from games too. There are a lot of roles rolled into one but I like it and I make no bones about where I want to go. I want to manage as high as I can. Mickleover Sports FC is definitely a good grounding and a good apprenticeship for me.
You had a two season spell at Doncaster Rovers. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special memories or highlights?
Yes before arriving at Doncaster Rovers I had spent the four previous seasons at Aston Villa where I also debuted in the Premier League.I had fallen out of favour at the club where I went on loan to Dagenham & Redbridge and we ended up playing Doncaster Rovers in the play-off final and Doncaster Rovers beat us and I ended up signing for Doncaster Rovers that summer.
I knew what I was coming into and that I was joining a good club. The highlight of my time there was winning League Two in my first season and I have a League Two winners medal which was fantastic.I think I only played 20 games in two seasons and subsequently went out on loan to Shrewsbury Town.I have so many fond memories from my time at Doncaster Rovers who are a great football club but I would have liked to play more games from the club.I am still in the area and my family and I moved up here 16 years ago and we stayed here. The area and the people are fantastic.
You made over 200 appearances for Burton Albion in a six year spell. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?
I think that anyone who knows me knows that my six years at Burton Albion were the best of my career. My six years at Burton Albion were the most enjoyable of my playing career. I played under great managers such as Nigel Clough,Paul Peschisolido and Gary Rowett. I loved every minute of it. I was flying at the peak of my career.
We won the Conference National to take us up to to Football League and then I had the honour of captaining the team in the Football League for four seasons.To make over 200 appearances in five seasons as well as having missed a season through injury that equates to around 50 games a season and that in itself tells you that I was fit and happy. Financially I could have gone to a lot of clubs elsewhere but my heart was always at Burton Albion and even to this day I still look for their fixtures and I am still quiet close with their manager Nigel Clough and also a lot of people at the club as well. Burton Albion is a club very close to my heart.
You mentioned Nigel Clough, Paul Peschisolido and Gary Rowett. Did any of those managers give you any advice or encouragement when you decided to enter football management yourself?
Yes, The first manager that I spoke to was Nigel Clough. I rang him and we met up for a coffee and he is someone who I hold in high esteem.He has been there and managed the likes of Burton Albion, Sheffield United and Derby County and gave me the advice and told me to be my own man.
Nigel always created an environment where it was a happy place to be and players wanted to come and learn.The training was always new, fresh and joyful. I try to take the best things out of all the managers I have played under.I also spoke to Paul Peschisolido and Gary Rowett not to tell me what to do but to ask for little pointers on how to prepare for pre season for example and they are both successful managers.
I enjoyed my time playing under those three managers.Nigel is always there for me know if I ever need to ring or need a helping hand. I managed to get down to the last two candidates for the Halifax Town job last summer which was a full time National Conference Job and Gary Rowett wrote a lovely testimony for me to give to the Halifax Town Chairman. I have good people around me but I like to remain my own manager at all times.
Finally John. Could you describe your coaching philosophy and do you have anything that you would ideally like to achieve in your managerial career?
I was always a midfielder that like to play football and my philosophy is that my teams ultimately will try and play.My managerial philosophy is to be the best man manager that I can.I believe that if you have a happy player that he is going to come and work for you twice as hard.
Not all players are the same.Some players need an arm around them, some need loving and some need a telling off every now and again but I think to be a good man manager if you can recognize those traits in those players early then that for me is key.I want to treat all my players and back room staff the same and make everybody as happy and content playing for my team.If we can all play together then we will all win together. In terms of my goals I want to manage as high as I can. Somebody has got to manage Manchester United someday so why not John McGrath.