It's still all about Saturday afternoons and whether you win or lose

Gary Johnson when he was appointed as the new manager of Torquay United in the National League South at

Gary Johnson when he was appointed as manager of Torquay United on September 13, 2018. - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

The managerial merry-go-round, as people like to call it, keeps on turning, and a few more of my colleagues have just lost their jobs, including Steve Ball at Colchester United and Paul Lambert at Ipswich Town.

I was told the other day that managers lasted seven years per club after the Second World War.

It was down to just over three years by the time I first got into management, as John Beck's assistant at Cambridge United, around 1992.

Now the average time for a manager to keep a job, across the top five divisions of English football, is less than 18 months.

A sobering thought, isn't it?

I've been lucky, if you want to call it that, to spend four years at Yeovil Town first time, five years at Bristol City, another three years back at Yeovil, two-and-a-half years at Cheltenham Town and, come next September, three years at Plainmoor.

Even at Northampton Town and Peterborough United, I didn't do too badly - I kept Northampton up before I learned that the chairman would soon be leaving, and Peterborough were in a play-off place when I had what I think they call a disagreement on policy with the chairman there.

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Of course, any manager can bring on youth team players, make good signings and sell players for good money.

But at the end of the day it's still all about Saturday afternoons and whether you win or lose.

It does help if you can have a bit of success early in a job, because that can buy you time to do all the other things.

But after 35 years, I've always tried to work out the best club that gives me the best chance of staying there a little while.

Three times - not since I've been at Torquay, I hasten to add - I have been approached by Championship clubs, all big enough to have a good chance of promotion to the Premier League but who had hit some stony ground.

Each time I told the chairman of the club I was at, we kept it to ourselves, I spoke to the other clubs and twice it went as far as me saying 'Thanks, but no thanks'.

Three clubs have paid 'transfer fees' for me, so I've definitely been worth more as a manager than I ever was as a player!

But if you're going to have longevity in this game, the grass isn't always greener, as many people seem to think.

Nobody has a God-given right to win every week, but if you can earn the trust of the people running your club and of the supporters, you'll have a good chance of staying there.

Sometimes you read supporters' comments when we've lost, and you wish you could phone them up and explain things to them.

You try to keep everyone informed, and you hope that the clever supporters can read between the lines.

The important thing is that I've always felt that everyone at Plainmoor has been pulling in the same direction and singing from the same song-sheet.

We've had a bit of a quiet period for reasons we all know, but we are top of the league and I am still confident we will be right there when promotion is decided at the end of the season.

Finally, I'd like to send my best wishes to Steve Cotterill, the manager of Shrewsbury Town.

Steve and I have known each other for many years, and I'm sure lots of you will know that he's just been readmitted to hospital suffering from Covid-pneumonia.

Steve lives in Bristol, he's not an old man - in fact he's a very fit man, as I know because I often see him working out at a local gym near where I live.

He's not long got himself a new job, which he started very well, and he's been doing his best to manage Shrewsbury from his sick bed.

It just brings it home that it's not always older people who suffer badly with this virus.  I wish Steve well, and everyone else who's ill, of course.

We're all still hopeful that we'll have fans back at Plainmoor before the end of this season, so keep staying safe…