TO MY BEAT

Ac­cring­ton’s new boss James Beat­tie re­veals his plans at Stan­ley

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Craig Chis­nall

IT’S as well James Beat­tie en­joys a chal­lenge. Be­ing a for­mer Pre­mier League star drop­ping down to play in League Two is cer­tainly one, tak­ing your first step as a man­ager at one of the pro­fes­sional game’s small­est clubs is some­thing else.

But the 35-year-old is happy to throw him­self into it– af­ter be­ing the sur­prise choice to re­place good friend Leam Richard­son in the Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley hot­seat in May.

“I cer­tainly didn’t en­vis­age this when I an­swered the phone to Leam last Novem­ber,” said Beat­tie, who cost Ever­ton £6m when he left Southamp­ton in 2005, but was a free agent by then.

“Leam was good enough to give me the chance to come here as player-coach af­ter the phone hadn’t been ring­ing. He got me en­joy­ing football again. He be­lieved in me and now the club do.

“When he left to join Ch­ester­field I didn’t know what was go­ing to hap­pen but when the club came to me with the of­fer it was one I couldn’t turn down. Life is all about tak­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and this is a bril­liant one for me.

“I’d not even started my coach­ing badges, that’s some­thing I’m sort­ing out now, but I don’t think coach­ing will be my strong point any­way. Man­ag­ing peo­ple and play­ers is where I see my­self and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to lead­ing this club for­ward.

“It might have sur­prised a few peo­ple that I’ve taken this on but I’m loving it and I’m proud to be man­ager of a fa­mous football club.”

Stan­ley were one of 12 founder mem­bers of the Football League 125 years ago and have had more ups and downs than most ever since.

The fa­mous milk ad­vert of the 1980’s kept their name alive in the darker times and Beat­tie is de­ter­mined to use that legacy to build a brighter fu­ture.

His­tory

“This place has got a rich his­tory on the pitch and we all re­mem­ber that ad­vert too,” added Beat­tie, who won five Eng­land caps.

“It’s about im­mers­ing your­self in all that but also to keep rais­ing the pro­file of the club.

“I want the club to progress on and off the pitch while I’m here and ev­ery­one be­hind the scenes is work­ing over­time to help me do that.

“Play­ers like Danny Web­ber (ex-Wat­ford and Sh­effield United) and Nicky Hunt (for­mer Bolton right-back) com­ing in ob­vi­ously be­lieve in what we’re try­ing to do and I’m ex­cited about this sea­son. They shouldn’t be play­ing at this level but they like the way the club is head­ing.

“We’ve also been on the club’s first over­seas pre-sea­son trip (to Por­tu­gal) and that’s a real state­ment of what we’re try­ing to do and change a few per­cep­tions about the place.

“That was a great ex­pe­ri­ence for me and the lads. Our goal­keeper An­drew Daw­ber hadn’t even been on a plane be­fore!

“But the way they grew as a group and in­di­vid­u­ally was a plea­sure to see. We even had let­ters sent to the club prais­ing the lads in the way they con­ducted them­selves.”

Beat­tie, who will be as­sisted by Paul Stephen­son and Paul Lodge, has reg­is­tered him­self as a player but ad­mits he will be play­ing only as a last re­sort.

He scored seven times last sea­son but said: “I want to give my­self the best chance of man­ag­ing well and give this job my full at­ten­tion.

“That means not play­ing and I will only play if we’ve got an in­jury cri­sis. I still join in with train­ing and bang them in the stan­chion to show the lads how it’s done but I hope I don’t play too much.

Chal­lenge

“I will miss play­ing and noth­ing beats scor­ing goals as a striker but this is the next part of my ca­reer.

“It’s up to the play­ers we’ve got to take us for­ward on the pitch. Not the man­ager pulling his boots on again.”

And it’s not only at work where Beat­tie will be chal­lenged this sea­son. His wife Sarah and their three young chil­dren, six, three and two, will re­main at home on the south coast.

It’s a 500-mile round trip but Beat­tie adds:“Sarah has been with me through my ca­reer and we al­ways said that when I’d fin­ished play­ing we’d move back to the south coast.

“We loved the area when I was at Southamp­ton and we could fo­cus on our busi­ness in­ter­ests.

“It’s a great place to live and we found a lovely place and moved in Novem­ber be­fore the Ac­cring­ton move hap­pened – it’s not the eas­i­est of com­mutes! I’m think­ing of in­vest­ing in a he­li­copter!

“It’s hard not see­ing Sarah and the kids but they fully sup­port me and it makes the times I do see them even bet­ter.

“She’s got her hands full but backed me all the way and is happy. A happy wife means a happy life doesn’t it?”

PIC­TURE: KI­PAX and Ac­tion Im­ages

CON­CERN: Gary Rowett IN CHARGE: New Ac­cring­ton boss James Beat­tie is un­veiled. Inset, from top: In his play­ing days at Southamp­ton, shak­ing hands with Ever­ton coun­ter­part Roberto Martinez and pre­de­ces­sor Leam Richard­son

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