Lee Is currently manager of Biggleswade Town at Step 3 of non league football. His team finished 7th in his first year as manager. Can he lead the club to promotion next season? I sat down with Lee ahead of pre-season to ask him about his playing and managerial career to date.
You started out as a Youth player at Watford before playing in non league football. What was your best moment as a player?
As a player I’d have to say promotion to the conference south by winning the Ryman playoffs with Borehamwood beating Kingstonian 2-0 in the final was a great day that has played a huge part in the growth of Borehamwood and where they are today. It’s a fantastic football club and to see where they are now and how the ground has developed is fantastic.
Did your playing career help develop your coaching skills?
I was very fortunate as a player and growing up because my dad was a Manager so I was able to go to every game and learn early the different ways to coach and Manage.
Who was the best manager you played under?
I’ve played under some really good managers in my time Steve Cook, Zema Abbey who I rated very highly but for me it has to be my dad. He is brilliant at what he does he gets the best out of players I had my best ever season playing for him. Although Chris nunn was very close as he was great for me no pressure playing under nunny and very enjoyable.
What made you want to become a first team manager as you had been an assistant before?
It something Growing up I’ve always wanted to do ever since a little Kid. Most people grow up wanting to be a professional footballer for me it’s to be a professional Manager I love it. So when the call came from Biggleswade it was a phone call to my dad to tell him and get his thoughts and for both of us it was a no brainer and I jumped at the chance to start my journey as a manager.
How have you developed over your time as a manager?
At the Start I’d kick every ball, get so emotionally wrapped up in the game you sometimes miss certain things, So for me I’ve taken to sometimes just taking a step back during games and regathering my thoughts before making rash decisions 90 minutes is a long time in football so taking a couple of minutes to think is something I do now.
What would you describe your management style as?
I’m loud on the side lines but I try to be positive with that. Think sometimes people see managers being loud and take that as a negative. I don’t see that I demand my players to work hard and I’ll work hard on the side lines with them, But also if the boys need an arm round them or a cuddle they get it, if they need a rocket they will get that. I don’t enjoy doing that but sometimes it doesn’t hurt.
What type of football do you like your teams to play?
In Football you have to earn the right to play you can’t go out and just start passing without winning that battle first once that’s won then I love my teams to play with energy and pass. I always get my Teams to think forward all the time 1st thought pass forward 2nd sideways 3rd backwards. We can get caught up in just passing for the sake of it. The goal is forward so the ball needs to be passed forward.
What are the greatest challenges for a manager these days? Social media?
I like social media for players/Managers it gives people a voice and allows them to express themselves as long as it’s not a detriment to the club they play for. I also think it allows supporters to see what’s happening and other goings on around the clubs. It’s also a great way of networking with other players and managers which before wouldn’t of happened. I get on really well now with a few managers through social media which is really good.
What other leagues/countries football do you study to develop your coaching?
I Closely watch lots of managers work especially the younger ones. I think a lot of people’s choice would be Danny Cowley. I watch a lot on Danny. I’ve known Danny from a kid watching him play for my dad and what a great job he has done. Also watch the older managers as well and how they go about the work. For me it’s better watching the lower football league managers than the premier. Man City documentary I found very False great watch Pep is fantastic and what he does but he is working with the best so for me it’s watching those managers with less money and having to get the best out of players.
What has been your greatest moment as a manager? (Apart from beating my local side Wealdstone last year!)
The Wealdstone day was a great day, But for me it was AFC Flyde Away what a day! Although the result was 1-0 the performance was unbelievable the boys put so much in to it I’ve never been prouder of a group of players in my Life. It’s the first time the final whistle went we couldn’t believe we didn’t win we went over to see the crowd and the Emotion was something I’ve never been involved in at a football match. That game and day I will never ever Forget and Fylde went on to win the competition which I was really please about they are a fantastic football club and fantastic People.
What has been the lowest moment?
I’ve Been very fortunate as a player and manager that I haven’t had to many lows, I’ve had games where I’ve played poorly or had dips in football, So it would have to be as a Manager last season losing to Stratford to get in playoffs, It wasn’t so much losing that games it was the last minute goals against the 3 teams leading up to the game which cost us a play off place.
What do you think the biggest issues are affecting non-league football these days?
Sadly I think it’s Agents, don’t get me wrong there’s some brilliant agents out there that I deal with one being James at Achieve fantastic agent and does right by Players. But some of the touting around of players who are happy at clubs is totally wrong for me. Players think now they need an agent, best thing for me is Play really well and clubs will come after you, and then when they do you have every right to get an agent and get the best for players.
What are your targets for the upcoming season?
I’ll always set my targets at Winning the league and if that’s not possible the Play offs but we are not working with a league winning budget but we will always aim high. But the League is extremely hard again this season so we will have to a great season to achieve either of these.
Do you think the FA should subside the cost of coaching badges?
Sore subject for me this, As some of the best managers coaches have never done a coaching badge and some of the worst have all the qualifications known to man. So coaching badges don’t determine weather you can coach or not and the Game is very simple being complicated by coaches. The price of the badges do need to be less plus if Badges are what’s required to work higher in football the there needs to be more A license courses as I know people been trying to get on a course now for 2 years.