Managers Month: Ollie Howitt “I should’ve been the next Swindon manager!”
On April 28th 2011, Swindon Town sacked Paul Hart after a dismal run relegated us. Cue the rumours surrounding the next manager.
Whilst reading the local newspapers and online rumour sites I had to laugh at those being linked for the vacancy, so I thought, why couldn’t I apply? My exceptional Football Manager record is second to none. I had taken Swindon in the Premier League in 4 years, while winning the Johnstones Paint Trophy and 2 League titles. Surely the club would benefit massively with a passionate fan like me in charge. I would give what the fans want, excitement, passion and attacking football and most arguably, wins!
After typing up my application, I noticed Victor Chandler were offering odds on the next manager, so I requested they enter me in the betting market at a high price of 200/1. They got back to me with the surprising and welcomed news they’d be donating any monies placed on my successful application to a charity of my choice. I instantly accepted and decided the donation should be to the Swindon Town FC Charity of the year Hop Skip & Jump, who offer unique day care to disabled children.
I thought to myself, not many people will actually place any money on me, so I contacted The Swindon Advertiser, and they happily published my story. This attracted media attention from BBC Wiltshire, resulting in several on air interviews, most notably with former manager Andy King and arguably one of Towns most celebrated midfielders, Alan McLoughlin, who gave me a master class lesson in management.
I was finally receiving donations, which has now totalled £152.21.
It took a very long time for a reply from Nick Watkins. I knew I hadn’t been successful as Paolo Di Canio was appointed. It took another week to finally receive a response.
I couldn’t quite understand. Why was it so difficult to equate my experience and relevance to many of the candidates? I had won the Johnstones Paint Trophy!
Also, why does Watkins acknowledge clubs do on occasion need to take risks in appointing a new manager, but on the other hand state my experience was not relevant to the other candidates and I was a serious risk. So I was unsuccessful!
I didn’t even get offered an interview. I was denied the opportunity to set out my plans and 3 point strategy to get promotion. Why not?! Why didn’t they want to listen to me?!
In steps Paolo Di Canio with no coaching or managerial experience whatsoever, a massive risk given his colourful past, clearly contradicting the statement to me.
Of course I was angry, but at least this rebuff will give me the chance to apply for future roles at clubs, most notably I’ve put my name in at Chelsea and Aston Villa.
Would you fans like to have seen me, a passionate fan, who loves the club and would spend sleepless nights thinking how we would fit all our trophies in the cabinet? I hope so.
Mr Watkins treated my application way too seriously and not taking into account I had done it for charity.
Look at Steve Gibson, Chairman of Middlesbrough. A Football Manager player applied for the manager vacancy when Steve McClaren left based on his impressive gaming performances and received an equally impressive response from Gibson.
You were the of course outstanding candidate but after careful consideration we decided against your appointment. Quite frankly we were of the opinion that your tenure with us would have been short lived, as your undoubted talent would result in one of the big European Clubs seeking your services.
We consider it a sign of progress that someone of your status could consider us.
That’s more like it!
My on air interview with Andy King and Alan McLoughlin was a fine example of how to treat my application, with a bit of heart. So why couldn’t the Club not realise my application was a tongue in cheek
and it was done for charity? After all, I had raised a lot of money from a nothing story, to which he never even thanked me for.
Everyone had treated this as a joke, except the Club. All I got was a letter getting straight to the point telling me I am a serious risk to the Club. Very disappointed Mr Watkins!
You can follow Ollie on Twitter @olliehowitt
Check out the other Swindon Town Managers Month articles on The Washbag