Off the Post spoke to Uxbridge manager Danny Edwards about his first season at the helm. Danny has over 15 years experience of management having previously managed Chalfont St Peter FC.
Your team currently sits 5th in the table, in your first season with your new team, what were your aims at the beginning of the season?
We moved up to 3rd in the last couple of weeks, but disappointed as were slightly behind our target at this stage. We’ve always aimed to win a league regardless of the club we’re at or the the barriers we face. Nothing has changed at this stage and our aim is to kick on again.
You left Chalfont St Peter after 15 seasons, you achieved quite a lot there, was it hard to leave or a case of needing to challenge yourself?
Very hard. The real struggle was the relationship I had with the chairman Denis Mair. We were very close and experienced a lot in my 15 years. It was the right time for both parties, I needed a new challenge and was very lucky to get the job at Uxbridge. Alan Hollaway and the board at Uxbridge have been fantastic and welcomed me and my staff. I’ve really enjoyed my time at the club so far.
What are your ambitions within management?
Like all managers you want to test yourself at the highest level possible. I enjoy working and coaching players and most importantly winning games for Uxbridge. The aim is to develop the club and push Uxbridge higher up the leagues.
Who has been the best player you have coached?
It’s tough. I’ve had so many that I enjoyed working with. Particularly Alan Hedley who’s played for me for 12 years, Jerome Okimo who was such a natural talent and someone who should of moved into the professional game earlier. Charlie Strutton who was so unlucky with his injury. If this hadn’t happened he should of played at Championship level. However, the one player who was untouchable was Bradley Bubb. I’ve never seen a player dominate a game as Brad could. He had everything and I’m gutted he’s stepped out of the game. I’m still timing my request to get him out of retirement!
What player have you most admired during this season so far?
It’s been a mix so far. The sides that stood out against so far are Westfields, Bracknell and Chertsey. Aaron Watson is a real talent as is Lubomir Guentchev. Against Bracknell Nathan Bignall caused us loads of problems in the first half. All attacking players who could out of the blue change games.
What made you want to get into coaching and becoming a manager?
Probably the realisation that I wasn’t going to progress as a player. I always struggled to take on information from coaches when I felt they were wrong. I studied the game and completed my badges very young completing my A-licence by 25. This set me up to develop my coaching and eventually fall into management.
Would you say your coaching style has changed over your years in management?
Very much so. I’ve calmed down a lot as a manager and try to reflect on games rather than making impulsive decisions. Players are changing and expect a lot more than before and you’ve got to move with the times. I still love coaching but have realised you can’t do everything and to focus on the organisation and setup of the side.
Your top scorer in the league is Mark Bitmead, have you set him any challenges for the season?
No Bits will always score 20+ goals at this level. He was the first player I called in the summer and a player I’ve admired for a long period of time. Our players have team targets for all key areas and they are our focus not individual targets.
How far do you think Uxbridge can go in the league?
I have a lot of belief in this group, but this year it’s difficult to see a stand out side. I’ve been as impressed with the top 5 as I’ve been with sides like Hertford, Northwood, Bedfont and Ashford. Points will be dropped and we need to stay with the group. I’ve said since the start we will get better as the season develops.
What other leagues do you like to watch and study?
Sounds odd but I prefer watching non league football to the major leagues. You have to benchmark to a realistic level and take on key points from successful non league sides and how they are doing it.
What do you think the biggest issue that are affecting non-league football these days?
Probably the lack of loyalty in players. Players far too often move without considering the overall picture. They have dreadful influences around them and once you are honest with the player they tend to move to clubs or managers who will sell a dream. My other pet hate is social media and sometimes negative comments. I don’t like the fact that the only reason sides lose is because of their performance levels. It’s key to respect the opponents and take a defeat properly without looking for excuses.
Who is your managerial idol?
I haven’t really got one. You can take away a little from lots of coaches. I enjoy reading and try to take something from successful coaches. I’ve been lucky in my career to have Ted Buxton and Terry Venables as close mentors who have given me advice and guidance regularly. Their are some great managers locally and I really feel these are the people who deserve a chance higher up the ladder.