Gary Johnson: I’ve never had a backroom team that I’ve trusted more than this one
- Credit: James Fearn/PPAUK
You can imagine how proud I felt at Hartlepool on Saturday evening. To see our team reach a point where all your tactics and all your current and previous work comes to fruition is something special.
And to do it in front of a live TV audience of fans far beyond Plainmoor only made it better.
All credit to the players for the 5-0 win. They were terrific to a man.
But this is a good time to highlight the people behind the football team, because the work that goes into producing a performance like last weekend’s goes a lot deeper than just the players on the pitch.
Three people are key to the tactical build-up to every game - Aaron Downes, my brother Pete and Louie Birkinshaw.
Pete is officially called our head of recruitment, but he is also our chief scout, and he’s nearly always watched our next opponents in person, or watched loads of films of them, and drawn up a dossier on them.
Louie is our video analyst. He talks to Pete and Downesy all the time, and he and Aaron are whizzes at pulling out key bits of action, not only from opposition matches but also our own, and putting them together in videos that help us prepare for whoever we play.
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Aaron and Louie put a lot of effort into giving me a picture of what we’ll be facing next. Then Aaron and I sit down, go through it with the old fine tooth comb and, hopefully, come up with the answers.
Of course, other people are watching us as well, but we like to think that nobody is doing it better than us.
Together, we’ll watch maybe two or even three games that our opponents have played recently, and we’ll all have spotted things that we need to concentrate on.
You’ve got to be careful that you don’t overdo the analysis stuff, but you always want to say to the lads before a game: “These are their strengths - now, we don’t want to see them!” If we do see them, we’re not doing our jobs.
Before the Hartlepool game, there were several bits of how they like to play that we had noticed - I’m not going to say what they were! - and we were able to run Louie’s videos and tell our lads how to stop them doing it.
In the end, believe me, it was a big part in how we managed to beat them.
Alongside Aaron, Pete and Louie, there’s also Phil Osborn, our goalkeeping coach, our physio Kai Hepworth, Chris Todd, who’s our under-18s manager but also helps us with first-team training, and Russell Cleave, our kit man and also assistant physio.
It’s one thing working out tactics and telling players what you want from them, but they’ve all got to be physically and mentally fit enough to do it. All those staff play their part.
It’s so important for a manager to have a staff who you can trust. And I haven’t even talked about the other people back at Plainmoor - they’re all part of the ‘team’.
I’ve been doing this job a long time, as you know, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a backroom team that I’ve trusted more than this one. It’s a great feeling.
I may be ‘fronting’ things, and I do have the last decision of course - the buck does stop with me. But I couldn’t do the job without what I call ‘my unsung heroes’. Long may they continue.
Fingers crossed for Crawley in the Cup on Sunday. Stay safe everyone.