How are you feeling about the appointment of Carl Fletcher as the Club’s new Head Coach?
I’m very happy that the search and the long search is over. It has been a hectic period for myself but at the end of it, we’ve come out of it with the person I believe to be the best candidate for the job, someone who’s going to be able to take us forward, lead the Club and lead the coaches and players into the rest of this season.
What was it about Fletcher that made you think he was the right man for the job?
I personally interviewed six people and then I put the people forward who I think are the right people for the job. I put four people forward to the board and if I’m honest with you, the other people probably had more experience than Carl in the management stake but we all went through the interview process with him and he kept coming out on top when we reached the end of that. He had leadership, which he obviously had as Captain of many teams he was at including his country.
I quite like the fact, at Plymouth, he had to go through a difficult situation because they were skint at the time and he had to do that at 31 and I think that takes some doing. Everytime we looked at what we were looking for, he ticked every box apart from having 200 league games behind him.
I spoke to [Aston Viilla Manager] Dean Smith and told him the one that I like the best and the one that I think the board will like the best is Carl Fletcher but I’m worried that he doesn’t have experience apart from his Plymouth experience in terms of managing in the league. Dean’s answer to me was ‘well, if that was the criteria then you wouldn’t have been a manager and I wouldn’t have been a manager’ when we both got our first chance at Leyton Orient and Walsall respectively. That’s no criteria not to take someone so it helped me make my decision and the board make their decision. I believe he’s got all the credentials and all the tools to take this football club forward.
You will have done plenty of due diligence on Carl Fletcher as well?
I did due diligence on the four people I put forward and everyone I spoke to said exactly what I wanted to hear [about Fletcher]. I spoke to Stephen Purches at Bournemouth, I had people speak to Eddie Howe and Charlie Daniels at Bournemouth. I spoke to players who played under him at Plymouth and we also spoke to the people at board level and everyone came back with the same answer – they believe he’s going to make a first-class football manager, it’s just where it’s going to be and where it’s going to start after a semi-false start at Plymouth.
Talking about that Plymouth period in particular, he was 31 and the Club were under serious financial tribulations and he successfully kept them up. The second season didn’t go as successfully as he would have liked but that’s an achievement in itself.
People talk about win percentages but sometimes you’ve got to put what are the circumstances behind that situation. To keep them up at that time was nothing short of a miracle and speaking to people who were around at that time, at Plymouth, they had nothing but praise for Carl. Okay, he had a bit of a poorer start the following year but he’s expressed to us in the interview that he’s always wanted to be a Football League manager again.
He’s come top of a process we’ve used three times now – one came out with Steve Davis, one came out with Justin Edinburgh and this time it has come out with Carl Fletcher. There’s no magic wand to guarantee you’ll make the right decision but there is a magic wand to make sure you do all your due diligence and we’ve done that with this appointment.
To work at one of the most forward-thinking football clubs – a Club that consistently overachieves – in Bournemouth, he would have learned a lot in the various roles he fulfilled there.
He’s been at a Club that has started at the bottom of League Two and are now in the Premier League so he’s seen that Club grow, he’s seen the management side there in terms of Eddie Howe work tirelessly to make that Club grow and he’s been a part of it. In terms of forward-thinking, that’s where he impressed us as well in terms of sport science and the analysis and everything that’s modern around the game now. He’s got all that in abundance and that all goes into a pot when making a decision and when the pot boiled, out came Carl Fletcher.
He revealed that he isn’t going to be the man taking charge of this Saturday’s game against Grimsby, he’ll be watching in the stands.
We made our decision and tried to get the process through on Tuesday, so that Carl could have taken training on Wednesday but that didn’t happen. Ross has built the team all this week and Wednesday is a big work day – they work on team shape and watch video and all that for this week so the most sensible thing for us to do as a Club is for Carl to go to the training ground to meet all the staff, meet the players on Friday but leave Ross, Danny and Jobi carry on with what they’re doing. Ross has had three good results since stepping down and so they won’t let anybody down and Carl can have a good look at them on Grimsby, sat alongside myself in the directors box and take over properly as of Monday.