Gary Johnson: How I bridge that ‘generation gap’

It’s actually all about respect – respect for the group and for each other. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPA

It’s actually all about respect – respect for the group and for each other. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Jose Mourinho ‘posted’ a picture from the Spurs dressing room the other day, showing his players poring over their mobile phones, not long after a match had finished.

I’m sure he’d already said his piece, but it was more a comment on a scene which is part and parcel of the modern world.

Jose is 57 years old and, I believe, the third oldest manager in the Premier League. Hats off to Roy Hodgson, ever young at 73, and 60-year-old Steve Bruce, by the way!

I fall between them, and I know people wonder how someone in the Elder Statesmen club manages players who are sometimes young enough to be his grand... no, let’s not go there!

So here’s a bit of an insight into how we run things in the Torquay United squad, and how I bridge that ‘generation gap’.

Yes, I am ‘old school‘ but I have learned to go a little bit with the ‘flow, without losing control.

So, on mobile phones in the dressing room, our lads wouldn’t dream of looking at them until I’ve come in and said my bit.

Most Read

But I’ve got no problem with it once the football is done, and most of them are going on there for football reasons anyway – to check other scores, see how their mates have got on, that sort of thing.

We have a very good ‘fines’ system, with a senior player who is fines master – it’s Danny Wright this season – and as long as all the players have got their lists of fines before the start of the season, it becomes comfortable for everyone.

If you’re going to take money off players, especially when they are on lower division wages, you’ve got to be sure they’re happy with it.

We have a list of ‘misdemeanours’ – lateness, leaving kit on the training ground, not wearing flip flops in the showers, on their phones at the wrong times, organisational things.

We also have a ‘Wheel Of Fortune‘ every Friday.

The arrow can fall on different options – you can argue against your fine, you have to pay it, you get let off, you can nominate someone else to pay it for you or, worst of all, your fine is doubled.

The lads can go to an appeals committee, but since that’s me and my decision is final, that doesn’t happen too often!

Oh, any fines on match day are double too.

It’s actually all about respect – respect for the group and for each other.

I must admit I do struggle a bit with the players’ music nowadays.

It used to be ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ in my day, but now it just sounds like a noise to me. Either that, or the needle has got stuck!

But I just leave the room, let them have what they want on and, when I go back in, it goes straight off.

I believe that ‘old school‘ values are still good.

Most handle it with me very well and accept it. When some over the years haven’t accepted it for whatever reason, I can’t trust him, he can’t trust me and it’s not too long before he moves on.

It’s all about man management, which is massive, and it all comes down to trust in the end. That has to run right through the whole squad and the backroom team.

You can’t tell someone to run through a brick wall, or give you 100%, unless they trust you.

Even after all these years, I still love the job as much as ever, and I’m still desperate to win things and be successful. When that stops, I’ll be the first to know. But it’s not going to be for a while yet.

Stay safe everyone, and fingers crossed for Halifax on Saturday...