Jamie Howell says he knew he was going to be sacked by Eastbourne Borough the day before it happened despite being offered a new contract only a week earlier.
Howell was axed on Saturday after losing at Billericay Town, but the 41-year-old was expecting the chop having been told so on Friday by Bognor Regis Town manager Jack Pearce, the club he left to join Borough.
The previous week, Eastbourne had offered Howell a deal to stay, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, but now they’re hoping to appoint their new boss before the weekend. Mark McGhee, the former Brighton, Leicester, Reading, Motherwell and Wolves manager has been linked with the role.
“Results have not been good lately but the way it happened is disappointing,” Howell told the Eastbourne Herald. “Football is a small world, there were obviously things going on behind the scenes and it’s disappointing that I had to find out from elsewhere. I spoke to my previous manager on the Friday and he told me, ‘you are going to get the sack tomorrow.’
“If I’m honest, the writing had been on the wall for the last month. Things had changed at the club, it felt different, my relationship with certain people on the board.
“I’m not angry and I’m not bitter but I’m just surprised and a little disappointed with the timing and the way it was done, especially as I was offered a new contract last Friday (February 8).
“To be offered a new contract, then get the sack. Yes it does sound a bit weird but it’s football and things can change.
“Listen, I love football and I love coaching, I’m good at that but politics is not my strong point and that’s how it was becoming. Let’s just say I have learnt a great deal from my experience. And on the whole, it has been a positive experience with Eastbourne Borough.”
Howell joined the club in 2017 after winning promotion from the Bostik League with Bognor Regis Town, and kept Eastbourne at Step 2 in his first season. Borough are now nine points above the drop this year.
“I wanted that job and I was so determined to make it work,” Howell added. “My regret is that I didn’t get to put my stamp on things as much as I’d have liked. My remit for this season was to keep us in this division and develop the younger players. I feel I achieved that. Of course I wanted to be higher in the table. But give or take three to six points, we are about in line with what our budget is.
“Things were in place for next season. Things were moving in the right direction. Next season could potentially for a big one for the club – in terms of investment and playing budget – and I’m disappointed I can’t be at the helm for that. I feel as though I have wasted 18 months. It was always going to be a three year project and I wanted to see it through.
“But the club have made a decision they feel is in their best interests. I can’t say I agree with the decision but we will see if turns out to be the right one or not.
“As I say, there are many good people at the club and I wish them and the new manager well for the future. “I do feel a bit tired by it all but I will have a bit of a break and I do plan to return to football. I have been a manager for more than 10 years and I want to learn and come back better for this.”