Photographs courtesy of Burton Albion Football Club with prior written approval.
You’re currently working with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at Burton Albion and you’ve both made a strong impact on the club in a short space of time. How much she enjoying the challenge so far?
It’s great to work alongside Jimmy because he’s a proven manager who had previous success at Burton Albion.
This time he’s came into the job in very different moment for the club when Burton were bottom of the league and he asked me to be his assistant which was a great privilege.
I knew Jimmy from coaching courses that we had attended together and he knew that from my record in management so far that I am a proven coach with history of taking clubs from the bottom end of the league on an upwards trajectory.
This makes our working relationship very positive as he knows the club inside out and I know what it is like to succeed in adverse circumstances. We are a perfect match in that regard.
I’ve had to adapt from being a manager to being an assistant manager with Jimmy at this moment.
As a team, you have built an incredible atmosphere around the club and results have been very positive so far. What do you put that down to?
Our collective experience has enabled us to come in and give every player a fresh start. When you come into a club near the bottom, you inherit a squad who are low on confidence and who are conceding goals hence why they are where they are.
So, our first challenge was to build their confidence and build our game based on a strong defensive base. Once we felt that the team was as organised as we’d like it then we could play the attacking side of the game as we want to off the back of that.
We have been able to do that and have won seven games since taking over in January against the likes of Peterborough and Hull who are challenging for promotion which shows how quickly the players have bought into what we want to do.
We were able to supplement the squad in January which was a massive boost to us as we felt that we needed some more depth within the squad. We’ve put ourselves in a fantastic position now but the hard work isn’t over yet.
I want to discuss your time as a manager in your own right. Firstly, how do you reflect on your time in Non-League football with Northwich Victora, Southport and Nuneaton Town?
They prepared me well as none of them could be described as easy jobs. I took over each club when they were struggling at the wrong end of the table and then I took them to a much better position by the time that I left them.
Those experiences taught me a lot because they showed me what it takes to succeed in a difficult environment and gave me the confidence to succeed which helped me when I stepped up to the Football League.
It’s vital as a coach to instil belief and confidence in players regardless of the level that you are working at to ensure that the players can go on a positive career journey and make it to the football league and beyond.
You’ve spoken in the past about the importance of ‘adding value’ to a club particularly during your time at Stevenage and Oldham. How do you reflect on those jobs?
They were both very tough jobs but enjoyable jobs also. Stevenage were staring at the bottom of League Two when I came in and Oldham were the same when I took over.
Sometimes those are the jobs that are available and open to you and as such you need to back yourself to succeed in a difficult time for a club.
Ideally, my next job would be at a club who are ambitious. I want to take the club to the next level rather than take another job at the bottom. Every job I’ve taken so far has been a saving job almost like a Sam Allardyce type role in the lower leagues (laughs).
I’m proud of both jobs because I left both of those clubs in a better position than what I inherited. I remember Arsene Wenger once saying that you have to plan as if you’ll be in the job for the next ten years but work as if it’s your last day in the job. I think that advice is accurate because the medium to long term of any club is just as vital as the short term of the club also.
Last but not least, based on your journey in management and coaching so far. What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I always say love football and it’ll love you back. I love the game and I’ve always worked with everything that I’ve got to succeed.
I could easily be sitting at home rather than come to Burton as Jimmy’s assistant but I love the game too much to sit around and wait for the ‘perfect job’.
I love being on the training ground and my track record so far shows that I can improve teams and progress them.
I’m loving my role with Jimmy at this moment in time but I would like to return to management full time in my own right in the near future.
I’ve worked in England for many years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time here. However, I also enjoy watching football across the U.K. and I’m a big fan of Scottish football.
In recent years, many managers have went to Scotland from England and succeeded and if I was given the opportunity to manage in Scotland one day then I would relish it. I believe that my skill set would be well suited within Scotland because I’ve always made the most of what I have in terms of budgets and that would be an interesting project for me in the future. However, my full focus is on Burton Albion at this moment and I’m really enjoying my time at the club alongside Jimmy.