By Hugo Varley
When manager Matt Jansen tendered his resignation at the end of June, Chorley’s pre-season preparations threatened to implode around them.
Jansen had brought stability to Victory Park having guided the Magpies to the National League North play-offs for the last two seasons.
Many predicted the shock departure of the former Blackburn Rovers striker would trigger a downturn in fortunes for the Lancashire club.
But under the charge of Jansen’s assistant, Jamie Vermiglio, the Magpies have silenced the doubters, winning their first seven league games before yesterday’s 2-2 draw away to Brackley Town.
“It’s been an unbelievable start,” Vermiglio told The NLP. “I don’t think anybody thought we would come out of the blocks this quickly!”
In many respects, the appointment of Vermiglio appears to have been a masterstroke by the Chorley board.
The 36-year-old former midfielder is a revered figure at Victory Park, having played an important part in Chorley’s rise up the Non-League Pyramid and has been part of the club’s coaching staff since hanging up his boots in 2014. By quickly moving to appoint Jansen’s former assistant as their new manager, the Chorley board were able to minimize any potential disruption to their preparations for the new campaign.
“When I was offered the job, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of pride because this club really means a lot to me” the new boss added. “I knew it would require serious dedication though and would involve a lot of extra work because I also work as a school headmaster so I am definitely not going to get much time to relax this year!
“Being a headmaster is tough work but nothing could have prepared me for some of the challenges I have faced as a manager.
“The hardest part has been having to look a player in the eye and break the news that they are not in the match day squad. I suppose I’ve found it especially tough because I have played alongside and developed friendships with a lot of the lads here.”
In his playing days, Vermiglio was known as a colourful character in the dressing room and partial to playing the occasional prank on his teammates.
“I had a lot of fun as a player and always enjoyed pulling tricks,” he joked. “Although to be honest it is probably best if you don’t publish the details of a few of them!
“I’ve tried to ensure we continue to have a fun and relaxed atmosphere at the club. A lot of the lads work serious and stressful jobs in the day so it is important that they can have a laugh and keep their spirits up.
“At the end of the day though all the players know that as soon as they head out onto the pitch it is time to knuckle down and get to work.”
Unsurprisingly, Chorley’s extraordinary start to the campaign leaves them sitting pretty on top of the table but Vermiglio is keen to ensure that both fans and players keep their feet firmly on the ground.
He went on: “Confidence is really high and we have a strong sense of momentum but it is such a long season.
“I know it’s an old cliché but it rings true – we have to take it one game at a time and set ourselves mini targets throughout the campaign.
“I think what has impressed me the most is how compact we have been defensively. The fact that we only conceded one goal in in our first seven games is testament to what a solid backline we have here.”
Whether he is in the classroom or barking instructions to his players from the dugout, Vermiglio brings enthusiasm to whatever he does.
Sure it’s early days, but it would be difficult to bet against Vermiglio finally steering Chorley over the line and competing in the top flight next season.
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday