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Being kept at Arms length! Blyth Spartans won’t let boss Alun go without a fight

By Mark Carruthers

Blyth Spartans chairman Tony Platten says the club will do ‘everything in their power’ to keep highly-rated manager Alun Armstrong at Croft Park.

The former Ipswich Town and Middlesbrough striker is a strong favourite to land the vacant Hartlepool United job after leading Spartans to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League title in his very first season of management.

The momentum has continued this season with Spartans sat firmly in the National League North play-off chase heading into the final quarter of the season.

North-east rivals Gateshead and Darlington have both been linked with moves for Armstrong in the past, making the 43-year-old one of the region’s most sought-after young bosses.

But nowhere are his talents more admired than at his current club where chairman Platten  believes he has taken Spartans to whole new level.

“Had I been offered fourth in the league running into the beginning of March I would have snapped your hand off,” he told The NLP.

Knowledge

“Alun has done a fantastic job managing the team since he took hold of the reins last season and to be performing the way we are, knocking goals in for fun, it’s really good.

“It shows a tremendous change that Alun has brought into the team in terms of discipline and effort.

“He has carried on the good work done by Tom (Wade) and has taken it to the next level.

“Just about everywhere we go we are complimented about the style of play by the directors of other clubs.

“That is testimony to the management team and long may it continue.”

Armstrong has played a strong part in a number of talented young players at Croft Park, such as goal-ace Dan Maguire, catching the attentions of clubs from higher up the league pyramid.

With the success he has had, Platten expects Armstrong to be in high demand but he hopes he can persuade the former Middlesbrough academy coach to stay at the club and perhaps lead them into Non-League’s top-flight – especially with a trip to title chasers Salford City to come on Saturday.

“It wasn’t a risk (to appoint Armstrong) because his football knowledge was never in doubt,” he added.

“Working in an academy you have big decisions to make so we knew he would make the big decisions. He’s come to us and he has not been afraid to make them.

Option

“Whether it is a player or a manager, if they are performing well they will always come under the spotlight of other clubs.

“We have Alun on a contract with another year in there as an option.

“I will be doing everything within our power to convince him that we would like him to stay.”

 

*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday

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