First interview with our new Central manager, Paul McGuire, the successor to James McMahon from back in 1932.
Are you looking forward to this new challenge as Manchester Central FC manager and taking the club forward?
Yes absolutely, it will certainly be a challenge but it’s something that’s exciting and fits really well into the bigger picture of what we’ve been trying to achieve with our partner academy.
You’ve managed in this league before with recently promoted Wilmslow Albion FC. What do you think it takes to compete in this league and is there anything you would do differently this time around?
Wow, yes that seems a lifetime ago now, the Albion days. I was younger then and just finished playing. It was more a learning curve then, a great deal of fun as I had friends helping and I played a few games myself which was nice. Back then it was something which really helped me complete my UEFA A licence coaching qualification.
But this time we mean business, all done for very different reasons. The fact of the matter is you need a committed group of players to form a squad of around 18-20 reliable lads. You need ability but also grit and tenacity to survive in this league.
The league division one is the largest it’s been in many a year, so it will be a war of attrition, with many Saturday then midweek games. We have a strong reserve team and the ability to move players up and down will be key.
You’ve managed at a higher level than the Manchester First Division with clubs such as Evo-Stik’s Radcliffe Borough FC. Is there anything that you learnt from your time there that will be useful at central?
Yes I had a great time at Radcliffe, they had their difficulties in terms of finance and therefore keeping hold of players which makes life hard. My time there was good, I really enjoyed some of the FA Cup ties and some of the battles against bigger teams such as Darlington and FC United of Manchester.
Some of the main things I leant personally was why I’m doing it, what’s it all about in the longer term and where’s it heading.
Players are key, without commitment and a sprinkling of talent you’ll find it hard. Plus facilities, you need to train properly on a full size pitch. We could never do this at Radcliffe, unfortunately, in my time there and it does affect you in games.
Do you think it’s a risk taking over such a newly re-established club? What are the main challenges you face at Central?
It’s certainly not an easy option, it’s a bit of a risk perhaps. As an experienced UEFA A licensed coach I could easily work at a much higher club or youth academy at a professional club, which are offers that I’ve had, or even go and assist as a volunteer at much higher semi-professional clubs.
But this is an unbelievable and unique story and opportunity. The history of the club is key as it gives Central some traction from day one. The club could never have secured the Manchester Regional Arena without this back story.
The main challenge…well there’s a few. Players of course, attracting the right player, which we have as good a head start on than most what with the clubs’ U18s, two U19s and reserves.
The challenge we face is starting at the bottom, as we are required to do. It’s harder to attract certain players, and some of the away grounds will be a bit rough and ready.
Money…yes, money will always be a challenge. Although the club is helped out financially today, it’s important to build a war chest for the future as climbing the football ladder will eventually cost money.
You’ve managed youth sides before at Stalybridge Celtic FC and Macclesfield Town FC. How important is the development of youth players for a club like Manchester Central’s success?
Youth is massive and the number one focus. Yes I’ve been a part of this in pervious incarnations; particularly the Stalybridge model was very successful for them at the time.
It was a good five to six years ago and I think it’s changed now but they got some really good players through the teams I worked with into the first team. It helped there to work with the people as I knew them all from my playing days at Morecambe FC. I had a great rapport with them.
With the club having a good youth setup ranging from Under 21s to Under 18s. Will you look to work with the youth managers to create a club playing philosophy and, if so, how will you implement it?
Yes, that’s the plan. Easier said than done of course but you have to work towards this. Make no mistake, I’ll be over all the games and teams. The last few seasons I’ve been involved in over 100+ fixtures per season, nothing will change in that respect. I love to get down to them all where possible.
The coaches of these teams need to be given licence to adopt their own ways, but they’ll all stick to some key themes. Nobody wants to be told in black & white “you must do this”…they need the license to tweak and change as they see fit. If we’re playing 4-2-3-1 but there’s obvious challenges on the day, then change it. That’s fine with me.
What is your philosophy and will you insist on centrals youth teams adopting your approach?
I think this is the very first time in over 16 years coaching that I actually really want and see value in a philosophy. Previously it was all a waste of time as working at other clubs things changed like the wind. Mangers came and went, programmes got shut down, one minute it’s; don’t worry about results, then it’s worry about results.
Now at Central a clear philosophy will be developed over time, taking all factors and staff opinions on board. It’s easy for me to sit here and say,,. “we’re gonna play 4-3-3 attacking football, press teams, entertain” etc, but to be frank I don’t know if just one philosophy works. I’d love to think the philosophy will be adaptable and flexible and be for the betterment of results and player perception.
What does the name Manchester central FC mean to you?
A lot, if you ask the people closest around me they’ll probably support that view. Certainly to give up even more of my family time was not done lightly and it’s only Central that had this pull. It’s a huge name, just the very wording ‘Manchester Central’ opens doors that other clubs can’t and the city centre location of the home ground and training ground is key. Also the badge and branding is very appealing.
There’s a lot more of a back story to tell about the name, how the club came about to be re-established etc. One for another time.
What will success look like this season and where do you think the club will be in 20 years time?
It differs on this from time to time, truthfully we’ll be better placed to say once we’ve played a few games, but promotion to the Premier league is and will be my initial aim. That would be a huge success, although some say mid – table building a platform is a success.
I’ll put my neck on the line early and say; 4th placed finish, final of a Cup. That would be a huge success right now.
Did you have any role models or mentors either as player or manager that inspired you to get in to the game of football? What are your future plans? Do you see yourself being the long-term manager of central?
Back in the day I modelled my game on Fernando Hierro (ex Madrid, Spain), used to love that guys style of play as a centre back/centre midfielder.
As a manager or coach not really. I did take a great deal from Jim Harvey who managed me at Morecambe F.C, a great manager who had a good way with players. Could be hard, but fair. Coaches like Alan Keeling had a big influence on me in how to help young lads and create opportunities form them. Alan even took me the America back in the late 90’s when I was in Morecambes Academy.
Long term I’d like to see new manager take it on after a solid foundation is in place. It’s very important to give our successors a good start point.
There’s so many other areas both Club and outside the Club I’m in a position to work on and the running of the team will eventually come secondary to this. But we’ll have some highs and a few lows no doubt before this time comes.
The club has some very interesting history. Most notably its struggle to survive back in 1932 due to its big Manchester neighbours. Do you think the club has what it takes to live and prosper this time around?
Time will tell, I’m sure them two clubs have moved on a bit, we’re not quite as much of a threat this time.
The club will prosper as long as it has good facilities and it’s an attractive prospect for players. Whilst it must become financially viable. Yes, I think it will survive and grow.
Once upon-a-time Manchester Central were pulling in higher attendances than Manchester United, despite not playing league football and were the club to support in East Manchester due to Manchester City being based in the south at Maine Road. Do you think United and City have anything to worry about now, 85 years later?
A bit…haha. No, in reality, the club wants to become the 3rd team in Manchester. The team that every United & City see as their second team. The beauty of Central is it’s not attempting to ride of the back of anyone else, we don’t play in a United or City coloured kit, the name totally stands alone etc. That’s very important to this club. The club would have found it really easy to go down that route. Come on, we play a long goal kick away from Man City, how many people would have gone down that route?
And it is true Central were getting bigger crowds than United, amazing as that may seem. We’d settle for 100 regulars at this point next season haha.
After an 85 year break, what is the squad looking like for the 2016-17 campaign? What areas are you looking to improve on? What qualities and attributes are you looking for in players that want to play for this club?
Looks decent, lots of ex academy graduates involved as well as some talented younger lads still in the academy. Plus lots of external players coming to us from higher clubs where they were our of favour or in need of a new challenge. So a really interesting mix so far. Doors never closed though and the need for one or two more older faces is still a priority.
After a successful first season for Manchester central with its U21s finishing 3rd in the Cheshire u21s league, will you look to promote some of the players that did well and how will this help the league campaign?
Yes certainly, many of them will still be with us next season in the senior squad able to play both reserve and first team football (also U19). They did brilliant last season, one or two will have a huge impact in the Manchester League this time around.
Why would you manager central over taking managerial positions in higher leagues?
Like I’ve said previously for me it’s about ‘why’ we do it, what’s the long term plan. I could manage higher but it’s all the same. At this stage I’m more about the feeling and the environment, plus the people your working with. At Central this is second to none.
You can manage higher, but does that equate to an individuals success. You’re still out the house and away from your family the same, you still get rained on the same.
If another Club had the same ethos, shared my view then brilliant I’d be interested. But right now it’s all about Central.
You’ve played for some well respected clubs in your time as a player. Did your time at these clubs play an important part in your understanding of what makes a successful club and team? And what would you say the recipe for success is?
Morecambe was my most successful as a player, we had some very high placed finishes in the Conference prior to the playoff structure. We also had great FA Cup runs playing Ipswich Town who we’re second in Premier league at the time, plus semi final of the FA Trophy.
These successes came from a solid group of players with most of the boxes ticked. Five to six really good talents, five to six older experienced guys then good up and coming young players notably from Morecambe’s own Academy. This model ultimately saw the club promoted to the football league very soon after where they remained to this day.
Do you have a good understanding of the opposition in this league and who do you think are the teams to watch out for this season?
At the back end of last season myself and Central staff went and watched a few games, so we have a rough idea. Don’t know much about many of the 17 clubs in our league. We’ll do our best to find out asap, I’m certain there’s three or four really good teams, probably been together a while so these will be a tough challenge for us.
What’s in store for the players this pre-season and do you have any friendlies lined up to help you pick your starting 11 for the opening day of the season?
Yeah we’re playing Maine Road F.C form the Northwest Counties, also Manchester International Football Academy plus others. We’re also doing some track work as our home ground has both outdoor and indoor running tracks. We’ll also do the more hard core pound the streets, old school perhaps, but you gotta get miles in the legs.
To be honest I don’t think we’ll find our feet until a few games in, but it’s going to be a long season lots of matches, so there’s plenty of time.
How important is the playing facility of Manchester Regional Arena and the training facility at Belle-Vue in the success of the team and the future of the club?
Absolutely massive, key actually. Players want to play and train at good venues that feel and appear professional, we have this. We obviously tried to play first team games at the new Belle Vue Sports Village, but due to the pitch dimensions we couldn’t. Then with the help of Eastlands Trust, Manchester Regional Arena was offered, and what a move that’s proved to be. Fate really.
So utilising both the Regional Arena and Belle Vue only a couple of miles apart is great for the Club.
What are your past experiences within football?
Well I came through Fletcher Moss Rangers playing in same team as Wes Brown (ex Man Utd & England). They’ve got more acclaim haven’t they with the whole Marcus Rashford story. I also played for Manchester Boys and Manchester County FA select teams.
Then I joined Morecambe FC Acadmey and ultimately signed for 1st team. After which I played for a few local clubs; Northwich Victoria, Hyde United, Radcliffe Borough.
What’s your proudest moment of your managerial career/coaching career to date?
There was a great game in the FA Cup when I was manager at Radcliffe. Away to Atherton Colls, they were on fire at the time unbeaten in league and a club on the up. The game was an absolute battle, it went to extra time and we won on penalties. I’ll never forget that one.
Which team do you support?
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring young coaches?
Work with the right people.
How did you first get into football and then into coaching as you’re doing now?
Into playing football via Fletcher Moss junior football club at about U11s. Then first started real coaching at Macclesfield Town FC Centre of Excellence in 2001.
What will the backroom staff look like at Manchester Central and do you think the team behind the scenes can help develop the club and maybe even create a fan base just like the club had early in the 20th century?
We have coaches and match day guys, but always happy to except new coaches.
We’re looking to create opportunities for anyone who wants to help run the club to whatever large or lesser extent.
We’re also in discussions with a local partner to utilise students completing work placements tasks. Once we build a behind the scenes team we can then start to build and grow a fan base.
Also the Manchester Central In The Community department will be focal to what the Club can achieve. Spreading the word within the Community and delivering key programmes of activities.