(NEW MAN: Redditch United manager Paul Smith barks instructions. Image: Gary Griffiths)
By Andy Mitchell
Exiting manager Paul Davis claimed he had been told “a month ago” by rival bosses that he would be replaced at Redditch United by Paul Smith.
Smith was announced as the Southern Premier Central outfit’s fourth permanent gaffer in little more than nine months on Monday with the departure of summer appointment Davis confirmed in the same press release.
The change came 37 days after the Reds had started the new league campaign and a week after Smith had resigned as joint-manager of Highgate United, a role he took during the closed season.
Davis said he had been given assurances by club owner and chairman Chris Swan a fortnight before leaving having seen the man who would replace him “standing around taking notes” at Redditch matches and even tested the water by offering to bring in Smith as his number two.
“On Sunday night I felt like I was taking daggers out of my back and felt so much lighter after speaking to managers of good clubs in the league,” said Davis.
“They told me about Paul Smith and Chris Swan a month ago and there is no smoke without fire.
“I asked Chris about Paul Smith two weeks ago and he said ‘No, no, no, why would you be thinking that? He is just a friend who is watching games.’
“He said Paul Smith would definitely not be the new Redditch manager. I suggested bringing him in as number two and he (Swan) said ‘no, he’s not the right man for this football club’.
“Alan Wolfe (Redditch secretary) has been very sneaky. I was told he had asked for Darren Byfield to be sacked two months before he was and (that he) had been on the chairman’s case for the last two weeks (of Davis’s tenure) saying ‘you need to change this, remember what happened with Darren’.
“To be going around telling people you have the Redditch job in two weeks when someone else has that job is wrong. It is not professional at all but from what people are saying about him (Smith), that sits right.”
Redditch sat second bottom going into the weekend on the back of a win and six defeats in the league and an FA Cup upset against Rugby Town.
Davis told The NLP he had to “beg” players to turn up for his final game in charge, a 5-1 home defeat to Coalville Town, due to unpaid wages that he said were two weeks behind as of Monday.
He added that a scheduled training session on the club’s 3G pitch had been cancelled in favour of a private booking on the Thursday before that with “no showers or changing facilities” available at the last-ditch alternative.
“When you are physically having to beg players to turn up on a Saturday because they haven’t been paid, that told me I needed to step down. I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Davis.
“The result did not go our way on Saturday but the players were there, we had a team. On Friday lunchtime we didn’t have a team because of issues I had no control over.
“There is only so much you can do when the carpet is being pulled from under you. Inside the dressing room the atmosphere was not good because of what was happening outside it.
“I’d just like to thank the supporters, it was a tough start for us all but they were very good to me.”
Davis said he had been given three options by Swan – leave, turn around results in the next two matches or oversee a team of academy players on a slashed budget with the aim of rebuilding next season.
“I wasn’t going to do that with so many things going wrong and a gun to my head,” added Davis, who felt he had been expected to secure at least a mid-table finish on a “relegation budget”.
“Expectations and ambition are two different things but they are seen as the same at that football club,” he said.
“My ambition was to win the league, my expectation was to stay in it. He (Swan) will be very clever about the way he manipulates the budget and the way he talks to everybody about it.
“The budget is not that great. I would be amazed if there were three smaller budgets than Redditch’s in the league.
“I discussed with him a three-year plan regarding the financial constraints. Getting a young team together, coaching them and being competitive.
“We are six weeks into that three-year plan and I am no longer the manager. I think that tells you everything you need to know.
“Many of the clubs locally have mid-table budgets. That’s where Chris Swan wants Redditch to be, if not in the play-offs.”
Smith said: “Paul (Davis) is entitled to his opinion. What’s happened between him and the club previously is of no interest to me.”
Swan was unavailable for comment and Wolfe declined to comment.
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday for £1.50 in all good newsagents and supermarkets