BOZZIE DID LEFT OUT OF
BRIAN Little always semed destined for a successul career as a manager once he finished his distinguished playing days with Aston Villa.
A spell as caretaker manager of Wolves showed his potential and two promotions in two years with Darlington confirmed it.
More promotions followed with Leicester before the former striker returned to his spiritual home at Villa Park.
A Wembley win and ventures into Europe followed before he had other managerial spells at Stoke, West Brom and Hull.
Now director of football for Jersey FA, the 61-year-old was loved everywhere. Until he returned to Leicester that is...
FIRST MANAGERIAL JOB
I was caretaker manager at Wolves in the mid-80s. I had been coaching at Aston Villa for three years and left and Sammy Chapman, who was caretaker himself at Wolves, asked me to go and help him.
It was probably the darkest times Wolves had. The infamous Bhatti brothers owned the club at the time and the club was penniless.
Sammy ended up leaving so I took charge for around seven games. I won three in a row but the club decided it was time to look for a more experienced manager.
Graham Turner ended up going in and he did a great job.
I managed to sign Ally Robertson from West Bromwich Albion in that short spell at Wolves. He was a centre back and he stayed there for some time.
I’d played against him a few times and he certainly sorted me out. He was very experienced, exactly what we needed in the dressing room.
He knew Wolves were in trouble but he also knew somebody would take them out of their problems. He was brilliant for me in those few games.
There are different degrees of signing. At the very top end, Gareth Southgate was my best. We signed him at Villa from Palace.
At the time, Gareth was a right-back or played the sitting central midfield role. I’m not saying he had never played centre-back before but that’s where we put him.
We were playing with three centre backs and we put Gareth at the back between Paul McGrath and Ugo Ehiogu, and within two months he was an England international.
He just settled into the role the way we played and he was phenomenal. His reading of the game was brilliant and he mopped up tremendously well for us.
At Darlington I signed a lad called Mick Tait and he dropped into centre-back for us. He was incredible and the experience he gave us was fantastic.
This was with Darlington. I went there towards the end of the season and they were bottom of what was the Fourth Division having not won a game.
We got relegated but on the back of trying to sort them out and doing reasonably well, I was given a twoyear contract.
I took them straight back up, winning the Conference in 1990 and then Division Four straight away.
I won the Conference manager of the year and then the Division Four manager of the year, so I got off to a decent start and I loved my two years at the club.
I had a trio of comedians at Aston Villa. Mark Draper, Tommy Johnson and Ian Taylor were three brilliant lads in the dressing room.
They never did anything really, they just laughed and kept everybody in the dressing room happy. They had a great rapport in the dressing room and were great lads.
There are funny footballers in different ways. I can think of lads who told jokes but Taylor, Draper and Johnson were just a magnificent three to have around.
I could see Ian Taylor on a football field sometimes laughing at Mark Draper because he said something stupid in games.
Probably Mark Bosnich running away from Derby when I told him he wasn’t playing in the game for Villa! It wasn’t funny at the time though.
Bosnich had been out injured for a while and Michael Oakes had come in and played really well.
Bozzie thought he was coming back in for the game at Derby but we didn’t name the team until we were all in the dressing room. We were sat down and as I named the team Bozzie just ran out the dressing room. Paul Barron, who was my goalkeeping coach, was chasing him through the crowd all around the old Baseball Ground.
Looking back at it now it was the most comical thing, but at
the time it wasn’t! Best Signing: Gareth Southgate
I look at Villa and winning the League Cup was magnificent but my favourite achievement was winning my first championship with Darlington. Without that I probably wouldn’t have done anything that I’ve done today. I can see it now. Gary Coatsworth scoring with a looping header at Welling to win the game 1-0 and win the Conference. It was a header from the edge of the box.
Without that, all of the other memories might not have happened. I always look at that and think it was the start of a very enjoyable career.
Going back to Leicester with Aston Villa and having 24,000 people put Judas placards in front of me. It hurt like hell because I took Leicester to three play-off finals and got them promoted to the Premier League.
I go back to Leicester a lot now and they’ve done a great job to get back in the Premier League. One club man: Brian
Little scoring for Aston