Re­jec­tion? It’s got to make you stronger...

The Football League Paper - - GRAHAM WESTLEY -

IT’S been a long and lonely foot­balling sum­mer for me. For a third suc­ces­sive year, I have felt like a sun with no sky to shine in. There is noth­ing quite like a good pre-sea­son, dur­ing which you can pre­pare a squad for the long jour­ney ahead on all the lev­els: tech­ni­cally, tac­ti­cally, team­wise, phys­i­cally, per­son­ally, pro­fes­sion­ally, men­tally and cul­tur­ally.

It is a very com­plex puz­zle and six long pre-sea­son weeks cre­ate a good plat­form with­out which you can only re­ally play catch up.

In my last pre-sea­son in 2014-15, Steve­nage reached the League Two play-offs.

My man­age­rial story is nearly 900 games long, with more than 46 per cent of those games be­ing wins. I’ve won pro­mo­tions, won cups, sold play­ers for mil­lions, helped clubs es­cape rel­e­ga­tion and en­joyed pros­per­ous cup runs.

I've man­aged down in the Ry­man League and been pro­moted up through ev­ery di­vi­sion into League One’s top six.

But none of that has counted for any­thing this sum­mer (does the Au­gust weather re­ally count as sum­mer?!) as I have failed to even get a sin­gle in­ter­view in ap­pli­ca­tions for jobs at eight clubs.

Peo­ple ask me if I am frus­trated at that. The truth­ful an­swer to that is yes. But, be­cause I don’t be­lieve in liv­ing with neg­a­tive emo­tions, I would an­swer no. And I al­ways just re­flect, learn and move on.

When jobs don’t come your way, you have to look at your­self and un­der­stand how you need to change or evolve. Re­jec­tion doesn’t kill strong peo­ple. In many cases, I have seen first-time man­agers ap­pointed to jobs I have been in­ter­ested in.

I guess there shouldn't re­ally be frus­tra­tion from an ex­pe­ri­enced man when that hap­pens be­cause the terms of en­gage­ment do not in­volve be­ing proven, which I do be­lieve has value.

Know­ing how to win an FA Cup game puts pounds in the bank and mem­o­ries in the mind. Know­ing how to mar­ket and sell a star player for big money can cre­ate a legacy of in­fra­struc­ture. Know­ing who to sign and who not to sign can cre­ate a pro­mo­tion or a rel­e­ga­tion.

Like a fighter get­ting ready for his next bout, an out-of-work man­ager needs to pre­pare thor­oughly. It is about watch­ing games, talk­ing to agents, track­ing play­ers, talk­ing to peo­ple about foot­ball, par­tic­u­larly player is­sues/strategies, and learn­ing/de­vel­op­ing coach­ing method­olo­gies.

When you are back in a job, you can cap­i­talise on all that work and, if you haven’t done it, you will be found out.

I be­gan and ended last sea­son with­out a job. In the mean­time, I signed 14 play­ers (many un­fit) in Jan­uary for New­port as I contributed to their sur­vival in the Foot­ball League.

Two of those sign­ings (Mickey Demetriou and Mark O’Brien) scored on the fi­nal day to keep the club up and our 3-1 home vic­tory over Hartle­pool in Jan­uary was ul­ti­mately the de­ci­sive six-point game.

Foot­ball is a funny old game and you never know what is go­ing to hap­pen next. What­ever hap­pens, you have to make hap­pen.

SAVIOUR: Mark O’Brien

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