Next up on Off the Post is Max Howell who is currently the head coach at Southall FC at step 5 in the non league pyramid. After finishing 4th last season can Southall improve on this next season and return to Step 4?
Can you tell us a bit about your playing career firstly?
I came through the youth system at Luton spent 8 years there.. then there’s been so many clubs in between for lots of different reasons, fondest memories would be Hillingdon Boro, Uxbridge ,Northwood and Chesham.
What made you want to become a manager?
To be honest I never had it set in my head that I want to become a manager its just progressed that way, in what turned out to be one of my last seasons as a player I was 29 and aware my body couldn’t carry on much longer,I spent more time out injured than I did playing so naturally I’d help the younger players out, that was the season we reached the F.A Vase quarter final, so at the end of that season I was asked to become coach then a year later was offered the chance to become manager.
What made you join Southall?
At the time some of my friends were playing here and I spoke to them they encouraged me to come down,I’d been out of football completely for about 2 years and thought why not, 3 years later I’m still here.
How have you developed over your time as a manager?
It’s difficult to say as I’ve only just finished my first year as a manager, I’ve tried to help the boys both on and off the pitch and I think they appreciate that, As a player especially when I was younger there were lots of things I did wrong so I use my past experiences as a guide of what not to do.
Also at the start of the season there were things I didn’t have a clue about, players forms, ‘7 dayers’, all the rules and regulations regarding players, didn’t realise all the things that need doing away from the pitch. So that’s been an eye opener which I’ve had to learn.
What are the greatest challenges for a manager these days? Social media?
Keeping your players can be a challenge we’ve lost a few this season, Managers and agents sniffing about which I guess means we’re doing something right but as a manager that doesn’t help you on a Saturday and can be unsettling.Social media seems to be an issue in society as a whole these days not just football, people/players can post whatever they like, a lifestyle/pictures/awards/goals/stats the trouble is maintaining that for a long period of time.
What other leagues/countries football do you study to develop your coaching?
If there’s football on I’ll watch it normally at home, I think it’s good to watch all levels, the ideas are the same just a difference in quality.
What has been your greatest moment as a manager?
After walking into a job with no experience as a manager Finishing 4th in a new league after promotion in our first season in management, also seeing the young new team we’ve put together improve throughout the season.
How are you looking to develop Southall FC for the upcoming season?
We’re looking to build on last seasons 4th place where Chertsey won the league easily in the end and with them winning the Vase as well it was good to see how far off we are that level having played them twice,also to carry on developing the players and the whole club,continuing to put it back on the map.
What has been the lowest moment in coaching?
Losing, then losing 2 on the spin especially after the reasonable success the clubs had over the last few years, it’s not a feeling we’ve been used to luckily, but the higher you go the more it will happen I guess, I was never good at losing as a player and that hasn’t changed but you have to deal with it and move on.
What do you think the biggest issues are affecting non-league football these days?
Personally I think everyone seems to be in a hurry or looking for a shortcut to get a ‘bigger’ job or play a ‘step’ higher, earn ‘more’ money (Usually an extra £10-£20) so they end up going through 4/5 clubs a season don’t get the consistency you need to perform well week in week out. I’d like to think if you do well for a period of time instead of chasing them opportunities will come to you as players and a manager.
Who is the best player you have played with or coached?
I was lucky at Luton we had brilliant set of boys who have gone on to have successful careers from the youth team days and moved on to become internationals,we’d be on our way to training everyday in a banged out transit mini bus, I look back now there was £30odd million of talent on that bus..
Do you think the FA should subside the cost of coaching badges?
I did my level 2 and B licence through the PFA which helped me out and looking at the cost of the A licence I’d say yes so it’s more achievable without selling the cat!
How vital is the relationship between manager and chairman in football?
It’s massive, you see it from the top level down,the good and bad, speaking from my own experience you need to have an honesty that goes both ways and I’m very fortunate to have that with Bobby and the board at Southall.