From Sligo Rovers to the Isle of Man: Alan Rogers' move to management proving a road less travelled
The former Rovers assistant manager speaks to Newstalk.com about taking a position with Ellan Vannin and his mentor, Micky Adams16:12 Wednesday 25 May 2016, 16:12 25 May 2016
With the introduction of the multi-billion pound television rights deal next season, the gap between the Premier League and the Football League is set to widen.
Football has increasingly become a results driven market and while the pressure at the top end of the spectrum can be relentless, results are just as important in the lower leagues. The expectation on a manager can be almost unbearable.
In Michael Calvin’s peerless book on football management, Living on the Volcano; The Secrets to Surviving as a Football Manager, former Tranmere Rovers boss Micky Adams described the mood around a club fighting relegation. It is at Fulham, he says, where he "first encountered the nasty side of the job" and recalls one fanzine headline: ‘I hope you die soon’.
Adams endured a difficult time at Tranmere and left the club by mutual consent in April of last year, the team fighting to preserve their Football League status and two points adrift of safety.
The man who would step into the breach for the final two games of the season was Alan Rogers.
"Well, Tranmere is my club. I started my career at Tranmere," he says, "I hold the club close to my heart. It’s a great little club but unfortunately for Tranmere, the club has been in decline for four years now.
"When I had to step in, it was a difficult situation to go in to, but I enjoyed my time and it’s another experience for me. I only take the positives out of things, I'm a very positive person.
"I had two games toward the end when Micky left, the writing was kind of on the wall as we had to win the two games. But I only take the positives out of things, I learned a lot."
Unfortunately, Rogers was unable to steer the side to safety - an almost impossible task if ever there was one - and knows all too well the feeling of being dropping down the divisions.
"I've played at the top level and throughout my career I've had promotions to the Premier League, I've been relegated twice from the Premier League. All of this puts me in good stead. These experiences I can take with me and learn from and teach others about what I've been through. I can only pass on my knowledge from what I've got from playing the game and from being around a manager like Micky Adams.”
Rogers began his career at Tranmere and featured 57 times between 1995-1997. Image: Barry Coombs / EMPICS Sport
He and Adams have been through many testing situations together, not just at Tranmere where Rogers had served his assistant coach.
The pair were tasked with keeping Sligo Rovers in the Premier Division last season after an alarming run of form saw them hover over the relegation zone for much of the start of the season.
"Sligo was a similar situation, honestly. Micky wouldn't have take the job until I talked him round to it. I think they were second bottom of the league, about six points from safety of going into the play-offs getting relegated.
"When we got there we realised quite quickly that we were in big trouble. The atmosphere of the club was shocking, the players barely spoke, the dressing room… It was just a really, really dour place.
"Between me and Micky, and I think everyone at the club will agree, we totally flipped it on its head. All of a sudden a couple of days later it’s an enjoyable place and the whole team were buzzing. We stayed up quite comfortably in the end."
Micky Adams (right) and Rogers in the dugout at the Showgrounds before a match against Cork City. Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Adams has acted as a mentor to Rogers in certain respects, his levels of preparation and knowledge of the game are something the former Nottingham Forest player is hoping to take into a career in coaching.
"Micky doesn't get the credit he deserves. I think it’s only Neil Warnock and Dave Bassett who have more promotions than Micky Adams on their CV.
"His work ethic is second to none, it certainly opened my eyes when I first got up and close with Micky and was working alongside him. The detail he goes into on absolutely everything. You could name a player and Micky could tell you where he made his debut, what foot he is. The man’s detail is frightening. His knowledge of football is frightening.
"I've tried to absorb everything about Micky, but of course I've got my own ideas. But you can’t help but learn from a man who’s managed almost a thousand games in top flight football, the Premier League down to League 2."
The 39-year-old is now gearing up for his next project, his first real foray into the world of football management as head coach of CONIFA affiliated Ellan Vannin, otherwise known as the Isle of Man international football team.
"I've been in discussions for a while with the people at Ellan Vannin. They've got plans to try and move off the island and to try and get a better quality of football for the boys. They’re trying to give the lads an opportunity to move across channels.
"I saw the passion that they've got from building something from scratch. The project interested me. It’s quite easy to walk into other jobs where everything is laid on a plate for you but I'm not that type of person. I like this idea, there’s something about building a project from scratch that really appealed to me.
Control has been something that has eluded Rogers for large parts of his career, certainly his managerial career. Relegation after being left to captain the Titanic at Tranmere, to relegation from the top flight with the Foxes as a player. With this new project, he hopes to be able to mould something in the image of what he feels a team should aspire to.
"I'm going into this fresh. I'm going to meet all of the lads, I've been in constant contact. I know they've had a couple of players who've played over in England in the lower leagues who are doing really well for themselves at the minute to be honest with you.
"I'm going in open-minded and I’ll be judging people on the training weekend and we’ll take it from there then. I'm starting basically from a blank page.
"We’ll have discussions and a chat and there’ll be a training weekend with the national boys from the island. We’ll be preparing them and getting them ready, then I’ll have a look at the whole squad to take them over to the tournament in Italy at the end of June."
The team will compete in the CONIFA recognised Europeada competition in June.
The team will compete in The Europeada Tournament, hosted by the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA), while the European Championships in France are ongoing. The event will feature other teams not recognised by UEFA or FIFA, such as Monaco, County of Nice and Northern Cyprus.
"I hope to pass on my knowledge of football. The tournament we’re going to in Italy, I might be a little bit optimistic, but everything I go to I want to win.
"I don’t believe in settling for second best. Whether we’re good enough to win, we’ll find out. But I’ll be going there with all the players and all the staff from the Isle of Man to go over and win it.
"If the players don’t have that belief, the likelihood is they won’t be going.”
So while the rest of Europe gorges on the finest footballers the continent has to offer in June, Rogers, characteristically, will be working diligently to help develop a generation of footballers.
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