Ex-Stags boss build­ing fu­ture

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Matt Bad­cock

WHEN a 33-year-old Adam Mur­ray was handed the keys to the man­ager’s of­fice at Mans­field Town, he was the youngest man­ager in the Foot­ball League.

Strug­gling at the bot­tom of League Two back in 2014, the mid­fielder, who had cap­tained them to the Con­fer­ence ti­tle, quickly set about mak­ing his mark.

The Stags com­fort­ably eased their way into mid-ta­ble be­fore the fol­low­ing sea­son push­ing for the play-offs.

By Novem­ber 2016, de­spite be­ing just three points out­side the top seven, Mur­ray left Field Mill.

It’s now that Mur­ray re­alises he made his next move too quick. De­ter­mined to get back on the bike sharpish, within a month he was in the dug-out with part-time Non­League side Bos­ton United, which didn’t pan out as planned.

Mur­ray re­cently spent six months out of the game be­fore join­ing Barns­ley in the sum­mer and it gave him the first chance to hit re­set prop­erly fol­low­ing his de­par­ture from Mans­field, where he’d spent a large pe­riod of his ca­reer.


“I didn’t re­ally see it com­ing,” Mur­ray told The FLP. “In the three years we were there we took the club from a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle to com­pet­ing for the play-offs on one of the low­est bud­gets in the league.

“So I felt at the time I was in full flow. I had a lot of en­ergy, a lot of mo­ti­va­tion and I just wanted to get back into the game and con­tinue work­ing through my phi­los­o­phy. The level didn’t re­ally mat­ter to me, it was more of a pas­sion-driven move I made.

“After com­ing out of Bos­ton, and then Guise­ley (where he was as­sis­tant to Paul Cox), I had six months to­tally out of foot­ball where I just re­flected on the past few years.

“Not in terms of the clubs I went to, but go­ing to Bos­ton when it wasn’t a full-time club and not be­ing able to work with the play­ers daily – where I think my strengths are – was tougher than I ex­pected. It ended up be­ing a neg­a­tive move for me and my coach­ing and man­age­ment ca­reer.

“But it was from a mo­ti­va­tion to prove peo­ple wrong that I should still be manag­ing at Foot­ball League level. That de­ci­sion then had a detri­men­tal ef­fect prob­a­bly on the next 18 months.”

Mur­ray wanted to bet­ter him­self as a coach and be­lieves he is now vastly dif­fer­ent to the one who took over at Mans­field. He spent time in schools pick­ing the brains of teach­ers of vary­ing age groups to im­prove his un­der­stand­ing of how peo­ple learn and tech­niques that can help him back in the foot­ball world.

He scoured that area too, watch­ing other coaches op­er­ate, like new Stoke City man­ager Nathan Jones.


Mur­ray is now head coach of Barns­ley U18s, as­sists with the U23s and does the first team’s work on the op­po­si­tion.

And he says be­ing in­volved in a club un­der Ger­man boss Daniel Sten­del has been fas­ci­nat­ing.

“Be­ing able to watch the work of a man­ager from a dif­fer­ent coun­try who has dif­fer­ent ideas has re­ally opened my mind up,” said the 37-year-old. “In the pre­vi­ous jobs I had we were set­ting up not to lose rather than have the re­sources to set up to win. With that your phi­los­o­phy has to be tweaked.

“So to see how a League One club op­er­ates and goes about their busi­ness means I’m tak­ing lots of ideas on board. The club fits my think­ing with the way they want to go about things. I’m re­ally en­joy­ing it.

“It’s a mod­ern club. They have a very mod­ern way of think­ing from the top down and they ex­pect the man­agers and coaches to fol­low their phi­los­o­phy. It’s club-driven rather than coach-driven, which is a fan­tas­tic model.

“Then work­ing with young men, be­cause of the ex­pe­ri­ences I had my­self in my ca­reer, I can re­late to them and guide them on their jour­ney. All the while, I know it’s a club who will give young play­ers a chance. It’s a ful­fill­ing role.”


OLD ROLE: As Mans­field boss and, below, lift­ing the Con­fer­ence tro­phy

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