Playing for Neil Warnock in your youth can help when you’re attempting to win a league title in your first season as a boss.
Truro City rookie Paul Wotton is definitely benefiting from his connections with his old boss, pulling out all the stops in a bid to guide his side to promotion by tapping in to the vast knowledge of one of the most experienced managers in English football.
The former Cardiff City manager, who has won eight promotions, lives in Cornwall and has often visited Treyew Road over the years in pre-season with his teams.
Wotton told The Non-League Paper on Sunday how he made another inspirational trip two weeks ago to see the promotion-chasing White Tigers hammer Harrow Borough 4-1 in the BetVictor Southern League’s Premier South.
“He phoned me on the Friday and said he’d like to come down and watch the game,” Wotton told The NLP.
“He was my manager at Plymouth Argyle when I was young pro there and was brilliant with me. He taught me a lot and moved me from midfield to centre-back, so I owe him.
“He’s always someone I’ve held in high regard. He gave me a few words of advice afterwards. He said about staying positive and trying to get the best out of the lads all the time. His experience is invaluable.”
Warnock was impressed with what he saw in difficult conditions and named Truro striker Tyler Harvey the man of the match after he scored a brace to take his tally for the season to 18. He also went in to see both teams at full-time to pass on some advice.
“Some of them might not have known who I was!” laughed Warnock as he told the Truro website. “I think it’s nice if you can have a chat with them now and then.
“I’ve watched Paul’s career over the last few years, I thought it was a good time to come, they’re doing well. In the second half they played really some good stuff.
“I’ve looked for Truro straight away, I’ve always done that even before Paul came but it’s a little bit more special having one of the lads that I know. I just hope they can continue and get promotion.”
Indeed, Wotton has guided Truro into serious contention for the BetVictor Southern League South Premier title after taking over last summer.
The club had suffered relegation from National League South while Wotton had been axed from his position as assistant manager alongside Derek Adams at Plymouth, a club he made almost 400 appearances for.
Truro, now under the control of Dicky Evans, owner of the Cornish Pirates rugby club, are on course to bounce back at the first attempt despite it being Wotton’s first season in management at a level he knew little about – but it was a risk worth taking.
“First and foremost I needed a job,” he said. “At the forefront of my mind was the problems Truro have had before, but once I met the new owners then all those fears were put to rest.
We are honoured to be joined by former Cardiff City, Plymouth Argyle, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock.
— Truro City FC (@TCFC_Official) February 22, 2020
“I didn’t really have a lot of expectations. The club wanted some continuity, someone to hang about for a bit. I think they had four managers last year which is crazy. There were no goals set, no ‘you have to achieve this’.
“When we started we only had six players contracted. The squad we’ve got together is very new but they’ve done great.
“We’re a real humble football club. We don’t scream and shout when we win games but we don’t get too low when we lose games. We know we’re a work in progress.”
Wotton, having also represented Southampton, Oxford United and Yeovil Town, played under the likes of Tony Pulis, Paul Sturrock, Ian Holloway, Alan Pardew and Chris Wilder in his career – and has picked up bits from them all.
“I’ve been really fortunate to play under some really good managers,” he said. “Ultimately it’s important to have your own personality and to do things your way. Of course people rub off on you and the way they do things. The way I do my set pieces is how Derek Adams did it, organisational things like with Tony Pulis.
“It’s been quite testing at times but on the whole I’ve really enjoyed it. The experience I’ve gained this season has been invaluable. I’ve learned so much about myself and about football. I’m 42 and I know five per cent about football management.
“There’s things I’ve got wrong and there’s obviously things that have gone right. I’m grateful to still be involved in football at a good level.”
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