Learning as You Manage

By: League Managers Association

Graham Turner is working his magic in a second spell at Shrewsbury Town. The 64-year-old, who has clocked up over 1,500 games in management, spoke to Elite Soccer about some of the modern challenges that he and others face in the game.

How are you enjoying your second season back at Shrewsbury Town?

It has been very good. We were disappointed last term to have missed out on promotion as, over the course of the campaign, we felt we deserved to go up.

During my time in charge, there have been a number of changes in the playing staff, but we have managed to bring in some fresh faces as well. So it was a transitional period in my first year and I think most managers would relate to that. The majority of players at the club for this season are ones I have brought here and therefore, as manager, I take full responsibility for what is happening on the field. After a quite a reasonable start to this campaign, I think we can get better; we have high hopes for this season.

The club itself is well geared up for a higher level; the foundations are here, we have a very good ground, a good support base as well as decent facilities.

Having started in management over 30 years ago, what significant changes have you noticed in the game?

I think any manager who has been in football a long time has had to change his approach to players, and the game in general. Players have become more mentally fragile in coping with setbacks and the way you address them in the form of discipline. It is different now than, say, 15-20 years ago, where you could possibly get away with throwing tea cups around… and sometimes even teapots! But today I think you have to be a lot more measured when talking to players.

And the bane of the manager’s life now is the internet. Criticism in the game towards managers today can be unfair and totally unjustified at times. Maybe years ago supporters were more tolerant but now its instant success or the crowd can turn, and there is always a manager experiencing this feeling at any one time. So the spotlight and the criticism has made the job more difficult.

There are some very experienced managers in League Two including Dario Gradi, John Still and Paul Sturrock– do you enjoy competing against some of the younger managers?

To be fair I don’t think it makes an awful lot of difference who you are up against. You set your side out to win the game and enjoy a glass of wine with the manager afterwards. But the league also has people like Paolo Di Canio who has lifted the profile of League Two, so it’s a strong, interesting league but ultimately its one we want to get out of.

Considering your history and long association with Hereford, is it strange having to face them?

I don’t think so as you quickly accept and grow accustomed to your new role. I think it is only natural to take an interest in all of your former clubs, but it was 15 years of hard work at Hereford, and being manager and Chairman was not a good idea. I perhaps did it for longer than I should have. So at Shrewsbury I am just enjoying the role of purely being a manager.

To date, what has been the highlight of your managerial career?

As a boy I was very much a Wolves supporter so being able to manage the club for seven-and-a-half years, plus being part of the resurgence of that great club was without doubt a highlight. As a boy, my hero was Billy Wright, and when he joined the board I had him working alongside me, and helping the club get back on the right track certainly makes those years in charge stand out.