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The NLP says… Let gaffers get on with their jobs

By Alex Narey

Last week, I joined the panel of the Back of the Net team – a weekly debate programme aired Thursdays on YouTube that delves into the hot topics surrounding Non-League. The sacking of Dean Brennan at Billericay – or parting of ways if you prefer to take the diplomatic line – had broken only a few hours earlier and so it was the first issue we covered. Brennan joined Ricay in September following the departure of Harry Wheeler but after a good start, things begin to unravel with a handful of his players leaving as the club looked to move towards a more sustainable model.

For me, the dream package he was sold as a manager was no more and with the ship sailing into choppy waters he was left with only one paddle. A talented and intelligent manager, we are sure he’ll bounce back.

Like it did for Brennan, things change quickly in Non-League football and I have always believed managers at this level remain highly vulnerable. Not only do they have to get results on the pitch, a priority that remains tough enough, but many are often left fighting against people who carry too much influence within the club. The higher up the ladder managers go they are protected from internal influences; there is a level of segregation between them and the board which allows individuals more time to focus on the job they are being paid to do. But at this level, the insular nature of many clubs makes it difficult for a manager to go about his business without people getting involved who do not understand the job.

Dissenting voices are never far away. You have to remember, many board members at Non-League clubs are often long-term fans, so they have their own agenda and their opinions can be clouded. While chairmen and owners are easily swayed by the jobs that have been done before, so when a bright young manager comes in with new ideas that will naturally take time, they are quick to pull the trigger to remind their man how the job should be done. It only takes one clash of personalities, and from there it’s a slippery slope.

As for Billericay, I sit here now wishing Harry Wheeler and Jamie O’Hara only the very best as they make their respective returns to the club. Both have given The NLP their time in recent months and the guys at the paper spent some time with Harry at our National Game Awards last season, and we all speak highly of him. My hope is that these two bright and ambitious football men can be left alone to get on with the job they have been recruited to do. But somewhere down the line I fear someone will be sticking their nose into matters thinking they can do better.

While I mention Back of the Net, I urge you to subscribe and take a watch. It’s a fantastic show – certainly not because I make the odd appearance but rather for the regular knowledge brought to you by pundits and managers Jody Brown, Frank Wilson and Jim Cooper. These three guys know the Non-League landscape as well as anyone, and have strong opinions that are always well made. Visit the website at www.botn.tv or look them up on YouTube to see what they do. It’s very impressive.

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