Julian Dicks is keen to get back into Non-League football after leaving his No.2 job in the Premier League with West Bromwich Albion
Around six weeks ago, Julian Dicks was in the dugout at the Etihad, masterminding a battling draw against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Now, with his time in the Premier League having come to a controversial end, the former Liverpool and West Ham defender is ready for a return – back in the blood and thunder of Non-League.
Dicks spent 18 months working alongside Slaven Bilic at West Brom, helping the Baggies seal a return to the promised land of the top tier last season before the duo were unceremoniously relieved of their duties last month, just hours after heroically holding mega-rich City to a precious point.
“The sacking took us by complete surprise but unfortunately you are not given a second to breathe at the top of the game these days,” Dicks, who also worked under former teammate Bilic at West Ham, told The NLP.
“We worked so hard to get out of the Championship and the project felt pretty unfinished. I guess that is why I am now looking a bit further down the leagues. I want to have the chance to really build my own foundations somewhere and put my own stamp on a club and a squad.”
The tough-tackling left-back, affectionately know as “The Terminator” by the Upton Park faithful during his playing days, has already achieved success in the school of hard knocks that is Non-League management.
Taking over at Step 4 Heybridge Swifts in the winter of 2018, Dicks steered the Essex club on a remarkable resurgence from relegation battlers to play-off winners in just a matter of months.
“I absolutely loved my time at Heybridge, it’s a great club with a brilliant set up,” he added. “When I got there I said to the players, I want you to live and die by your mistakes, I will back you all the way if you give me your all but if you don’t give me everything than we have a big problem.
“I think my record during that season speaks for itself. We never lost two games on the spin and had upwards momentum the whole time. I want to make some more memories in Non-League. I’m not fussed by what level it is, as long as its a club that wants to go places, with an ambitious chairman, then that suits me”.
There had been talk that Dicks may have been tempted to link up with Bilic once again at Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan, who count the likes of former Brazil international midfielders Renato Augusto and Fernando among their ranks.
However, a new arrival to the family meant Dicks decided against jetting out to Asia, choosing to focus on a career closer to home instead.
“I have a five-month daughter now so following Slav over there was never really realistic because my hands are pretty full at home!” he laughed. “I had a chat with him when he took the managers’ job out in China a few weeks ago but I’m staying here.“
“After 18 months of moving about between home and the Midlands, I am really enjoying being back with the family in Essex. If I could find an opportunity at a club within a relatively close distance to where I currently am, it would be the ideal situation.
“To be honest, I only really want to go back into the pro game if I am with Slav. I’ve missed a lot about Non-League, the community, the passion, the uniqueness of it all. I am really excited by the thought of going back to it.
“Anyone who knows anything about my career will know I don’t give up on something, whether it was a tackle in my playing days or a promotion challenge as a coach.
“Wherever the next chapter takes me, my mentality will always be exactly the same.”