The Paul Williams Adventure

This is a piece written by guest author @Stu3145, why not give him a follow if you like what he’s written?!!!

The relief floods through me as I finally put pen to paper on a deal. The sleepless nights, the numerous conversations and the countless times I made the decision to later change my mind, all the time wondering what was the best decision for me and my family– they are all over. Instead they are to be replaced by sleepless nights, numerous conversations and countless second guessing on what I can do to drive this club forward.

But right now there is only time to smile and enjoy – 30th June 2014 – a date that will forever be etched into my mind. The day I made what could be biggest decision of my career, my life. The day that I signed to manage Liverpool.

I smile as my signature I placed on a one year deal worth £50,000 per week – a tidy sum by any account. But I did have offers to manage clubs on longer term deals, I think as the camera flashes begin, but was there really any choice? I can feel myself smiling, of course not, when your boyhood team comes knocking you really have no choice.

As the Liverpool publicity spokesperson guides me into numerous other locations for the photo shoot, I continue to ponder about how unlikely my signing just is – I suppose the only surprise was that they were interested at all and doesn’t the media know it. As the rumours began to hit the English press, a parade of pundits had rushed to claim that I wasn’t up to the task and that I hadn’t had enough experience in football. At only 33 years old with only a few actual games with boys on Sunday to count as playing experience, they had  plenty of fodder but I always felt that my side got a little lost in the coverage, a complaint that I had made to my wife numerous times. In any pre-appointment roadside interviews with journalists, I tried to point out that I had completed my UEFA pro license but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Anyway, I remind myself, I will have to front the media in a couple of days so I will have plenty of opportunity to share my point of view again – maybe this time it might even make a difference I think with a rue smile.

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After the obligated photo shoot with the new contract, a minder ushers me out of the media room to conduct my entry interview Thomas Werner. Having had numerous discussions with all the owners and managing director prior to me signing, this is little more than a formality to finalise the guidelines under which I will judged – making me wonder why we are even having this meeting now, haven’t these details already been included in the contract I signed earlier?

But I don’t have time to ponder that now as soon as the meeting with Werner has finished, I jump straight into another meeting with my assistant manager Colin Pascoe to discuss how the team will work. As Colin fills me in on all of the details of the club, providing updates on the agreed transfers and his thoughts on the squad, I feel myself starting to drift – I haven’t spent time looking at that squad just yet as their will be no more transfers this summer – for any club. In an unprecedented move, every club in world football has conducted their business before the end of the June. I still can’t believe that it is true, it is frankly unbelievable and not getting anywhere near the amount of international media coverage that it deserves.

I am suddenly dragged back to reality as I hear Colin repeating the question about whether I would like an interclub scrimmage as a way of seeing all the players in and around the first team. After a few seconds of thought, I decide it will not be necessary as the clubs upcoming pre-season games will allow me ample opportunity for this. As Colin leaves my office, I finally have a few minutes to myself and I feel myself beginning to ponder the future of the assistant manager – obviously he was brought in under the previous regime and I wonder if he is suitable to what I want to do is incompatible. I make the decision here and now that Colin will be departing the club.

With my ruthless frame of mind and my schedule free for the next few hours, I decide now would be as good a time as ever to review the entire staff and see who will be staying for the season. After a gruelling three hours of reading performance reviews and conducting short interviews, I decided that seven staff will not be continuing their contracts, with three fitness coaches and three physios set to leave – including the head physio.

To replace them, I have worked the phones to almost burning point but have managed to put in offers to 12 coaches in a range of areas, most notably Terry McDermott, who will hopefully be joining the club where he played for nine seasons as assistant manager. If successful, the appointment is sure to please the fans as Terry is considered an icon of the club. To replace the outgoing head physio, I am hoping current staff member, Andy Renshaw will be keen to take them step up to first team duties. I am a big believer in promoting from within, including both playing and non-playing staff, and I am quietly confident that Andy will be the first step in this process.

A ping on my mobile reminds me that my final task for the day is to meet the players. A meeting is already scheduled but I am tossing up with I should talk to my captain beforehand or not. While I have already decided that he will remain captain for this season, Steven Gerrard has already made a commitment to join a MLS team at the end of the season. While he is undoubtedly an icon of the club and a personal favourite, as his career is reaching the end I had always thought he was becoming … a distraction on and off the pitch – so his decision to leave will make that transition easier on me. I decide that the team meeting should come first, and if needed, I can talk to Steven after. A am little nervous as I head towards the meeting room … and in a quick pang of regret I wonder if I shouldn’t have gotten rid of Colin, but it passes just as quickly that it arrived.

Standing in front of the players, I begin the speech that I have practised numerous times in front of the mirror – the one about how that I am looking forward to working with them before moving on to the season’s goals. As soon as I mention the words ‘season’s goals’ I can see the players sit up a little straighter, and the glint return to previously dull eyes. I thought long and hard about the expectations for this season before I took the job, analysing the squad and comparing it to others in the competition and I feel that we have a should have a realistic aim to finish in the Champions League places. As it is mentioned, I can see the disappointment on only one player and as I give the team a rev up at the end I know that the players are happy with the season’s aim.

I decide that I have accomplished plenty for my first day at the club and as I am driving home, I can feel my body begin to tire as the adrenaline and excitement begins to fade and suddenly I am looking forward to seeing my wife and my bed. After all tomorrow promises to be just as busy.

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