I applied for the Blackpool manager’s job via email on Thursday, 23rd January at 1.59pm. I have worked for enough bounders with no foresight, vision or inventiveness to know that it was time for the little man to have his day.
Eleven minutes later, I received a response from the chairman’s PA, Dawn Butterworth advising me that without the necessary coaching badges such an appointment was “impossible”. I quickly pointed out that badges can be taken after the appointment and she conceded some ground citing the James Beattie case at Accrington Stanley (a fine and qualifications deadline).
Completing FA Level 1 (32 hrs), Levels 2 & 3 (UEFA B Licence – 165 hrs) and then the UEFA A Licence (Championship managers and above) which is run over 21 days would take some doing, but for the sake of a modest 18-month contract on £5000 a week, I was prepared for the hardship.
My communication to Karl Oyston consisted of numerous points: my understanding of the game having watched football since the 1978 World Cup final; a pedigree in terms of success (don’t laugh – golf Junior Knockout winner at Breightmet Golf Club in1986 & back-to-back table tennis promotions in the Bolton League 2011-2013); a head for numbers; knowledge of great footballing debuts.
It was the latter along with my firm belief that a sharp scouting eye is more important than having played professionally that I wished to press home (straight from the Arsene Wenger school of management).
I have had the privilege of witnessing Eric Cantona play in a Leeds United shirt for the first time at BoundaryPark in February 1992. Three years later I was mesmerized by the presence of Tony Yeboah scoring his debut goal at Old Trafford. In 2000, it was the turn of Rio Ferdinand making his home bow in a more sensible 4-4-2 formation (following the disastrous 3-5-2 employed at Filbert Street). A strutting, more confident centre half I had never seen.
All these players – as long-time fans of BWFC will know having seen the sublime skills of Jay-Jay Okocha – had one huge, seismic quality in common: they were able to excite. Their presence and audaciousness was from another world. To quote Jon Howe: “Like Cantona before him, the reverberations from Yeboah’s arrival were so immediate, so openly emotional and so telling.”
Finding such greatness within the ranks of the current Blackpool squad was my aim – players maybe rashly overlooked, footballers just not motivated correctly, men simply played out of position or psychologically strangled by the existing system. Could I put myself alongside the bookies favourites’ Micky Adams, Barry Ferguson and Karl Robinson? Yes – why the hell not. Was I delusional? Only in part.
I kindly included a list of transfer targets given the impending deadline: Tom Eaves; Josh Vela; Craig Dawson; Ivan Klasnic. I would fool Freedman into releasing the first two for a pittance. We would have our rock, Dawson. And Klasnic – the perfect foil for Eaves – would light up a crowd once more.
What has this got to do with table tennis? Did I even get an interview? I will tell you next week.