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Gladiators AMA | First-Team Manager Paul Phillips

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Gladiators AMA | First-Team Manager Paul Phillips

Over the past few days Matlock Town manager Paul Phillips participated in a question and answer session over Facebook and Twitter. The session was open to anyone to pose a question and the Gladiators boss certainly received a variety of responses! So without further ado, here’s a full rundown of what Paul Phillips was asked and how he answered them.

What’s your biggest achievement in football and your biggest regret? - Malcom Wood

“Biggest achievement in my non-league career winning the conference north with my home town club Droylsden. What a team! Jimmy Kelly, Craig Robinson, Carl Ruffer, Gaz Morris, Terry Fearns, great lads. Biggest regret falling out with one of my best mates through non-footballing matters.”

Is it true during your playing days that you got chipped more times than a Maris Piper? - Richard Battersby

“Unfortunately as I wasn’t the biggest, that was a hazard of the business but I think Richard can also point out how I made him look the best right back in the league every time he played with me.”

Is it true you were a Manchester City fan growing up? - Kelvin

“I wouldn't watch them if they played in my back garden, haha!”

Do you prefer 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 and what was your best season? - Kayde Coppin

“Best season was my first at Ashton United. Both the same as long as you’ve got the personnel to manage and carry it out.”

I think keeping a settled squad might help after the last two seasons... the lads are more than capable of competing in this league if not higher as we have seen in the crunch games. What I feel was Steve Kittrick’s downfall was the lack of a Plan B or able to alter things from the bench. Can you also get out the players you wish to retain heads that we don't sit back and think we have won at 2-0? Is the main aim during this break to find a striker? - Craig Cantrill

“Finding a striker is every club’s main aim. That’s the issue but one we are hopefully half way there with! The lads are more than capable but for me mentality has got to change not personnel! Even though you don’t finish in the positions we have last five years for no reason! For me, the lads I brought in and ended with four to five additions are a very strong group but again we’ve got to stay injury free and have bit of good luck which we are due.” I guess most of the players have normal 9-5 jobs during the week.

How difficult is it to arrange midweek training sessions? Do you have to factor in where players live before signing them so that they can attend training? - Kirk Jones

“Yes, that does come into contention. We train in Sheffield as most lads are central to that! It’s hard as every non-league manager will tell you to get the correct balance of rest and work with regular Saturdays and Tuesday games but at Matlock more than ever with the great group we have we can trust them to do recovery sessions et cetera and send data as set out by management team depending on work game load each week which is a fantastic attribute I’ve inherited with this group.”

How did it feel every time I scored against him? - Jody Banim

“The best individual player I ever had the pleasure to grace a pitch with and a great lad. Some of the things he did were, without being corny, world-class. One of the main reasons we won so much at a then-unknown club. P.S He never scored past me, haha!”

Have you still got those flares? - Ken Philburn

“I’m waiting for them to come back in fashion after the drain pipes have gone out of fashion.”

Which is the better Derbyshire side you've managed: Buxton or Matlock Town? - Josh Smith

“How do I answer that? Haha! I achieved more at Buxton but I’m now hoping to achieve a lot more with Matlock. An MP answer, haha!”

We Gladiators fans have witnessed years of constant and consistent decline. We've seen players come and go and managers come and go yet still the same mediocrity on the pitch. In your short time with us, do you think we've made the wrong choices year after year or are we just rotten from within? I don't doubt that you or the players want to be playing at a higher level, but in your opinion, is the whole club focused at all on playing at a higher level than the NPL? - Alex Lawton

“Not rotten within - nowhere near or as a club we wouldn’t have got through the last few challenging months! For me, the managers that have been here before myself are good managers but I think sometimes we’ve got to let people build foundations before we put the roof on and for me, at any club, we’ve got to have the same ambition and prerogative on and off the pitch, so I’m hoping we can all pull together and get this club back up in and about it where it deserves to be. There will be ups and downs but after this season we are due quite a few ups so here’s to the future.”

Next season I think that budgets at this level will be cut for most clubs due to major factors this season and fewer sponsors next season. Are you finding players are being realistic about wages? - Kevin Marchant

To be fair, as a whole we are not even speaking finances with any players yet but I’m sure as the rest of the world is that times will be hard and we will find out who wants to play for us and who’s there to pick up the money which won’t be a bad thing for all clubs.”

Do you see any players from your old Buxton side making the switch across the A6? - Joshua Smith

“Haha, not too many at the minute but never say never. There’s some really good lads and players involved with them and I speak to three to four of them on a regular basis but to be honest if they come from Buxton, South Shields or any other team if they are going to come and play for the shirt and make us a better unit and contribute throughout the club then so be it. We are searching high and low to make sure we put out the strongest possible team to represent us come the start of the new campaign.”

Have you got anyone in mind to replace Marcus Marshall for next season? - Graeme Corker

“He’s hard to replace as he’s a top player and a great lad but we are trying all avenues!”

As you are Manchester based, I guess a lot of your contacts and players you know are from that area. Do you think it will be difficult to attract them to Matlock when they could perhaps play for a team on their doorstep? - Russell Butler

“For me again, as I hit on in a previous question, I think with the lads we have, the base we work from and the area we train we have to try and use them to our advantage, as for me it’s hard to say we just pick players from one area! For me, I always like to have a player or two from the local area so people can recognise the club and lads around there be seen and we have that with Tucker, Yatesy and Dwayne at the minute. But overall we wouldn’t expect lads to travel two to three hours but if we can attract from within the confines of Manchester, Sheffield, Matlock, Chesterfield et cetera I think we just need to make sure we stay in front of other clubs looking out for the same players as us.”

Could you ask Paul when he joined the club if he was happy with the number of players who were on contract or felt that too many were and it restricted his ability to bring in replacements? - Russell Butler

“I don’t think contracts and that side are fair for me to comment on as internally they were done before I arrived at club in the main. But going forward, we need to assess if contracts are necessary with three key points regarding sale value for the club, the age of the individual and protection of an asset! For his second point, to be fair with the club we knew we had to get people out to bring in when I first got the job but not once did they stop me signing anyone I went to them with even though at the time there weren’t a hell of a lot of options out there.”

Given the circumstances of the world at the moment, how is player recruitment going? - John Smith

“It’s not going anywhere at the minute. All we can do is make calls, speak to players until we know dates et cetera when we will be back and when we will start again. I think all clubs will be in the same predicament. We already had targets in mind and had done our homework so it’s mainly Wildy and Brian Entwistle trying to get all things in place so we can strike when we have all in place.”

What's the top priority signing in the summer? - Ian Taylor

“I think it’s quite clear we didn’t score enough goals to win games last year so we need to rectify that especially now with the departure of Marshy. For me, your spine has to be strong and that gives you various options, defending and attacking, so my priority is a thirty goal a year centre forward and a twenty goal midfielder but unfortunately probably on every other teams remit are the same things.”

Will you keep the two goalkeepers for next season and which one will be your number one? - John Beresford

“It’s going be very hard to keep two top keepers but we’ve invited both back to pre-season. Jon was unfortunate with injuries and other outside elements last year and I thought Kyle came in and did well. They’ve both been told and I really believe in that you need a main stay keeper to play 90-95% of a games to be a successful team.”

Can I ask when will there be a retain list? - Craig Cantrill

“We are speaking to players and like he says the majority will be offered the opportunity to stay and fight for their places. We normally have a meeting at the end of the season face to face but obviously that not been possible! As soon as we have a retained list we will let all parties know including supporters as they more than anyone should be kept in the loop but for me we do need to strengthen as you don’t finish where we did for no reason and it’s my job to put that right.”

Are you going to be like the last few managers bringing in players from your previous clubs and letting go of good players who we already have? - Rick Cantrill

“I’ll be bringing in players as we can’t contemplate finishing where we have over the last five years, simple. If that means bringing in players, yes, but everyone as you've seen has been given the opportunity.”

Where do you think we'll finish next season? - Will and Steve Bennett

“My aim, as it is every start of the season, is to win the league. When that’s not possible, win the play-offs. As a club, we all need to set standards: me to players and supporters to me and my coaching team. With the teams in it, we know it will be tough but why not? I’m not one to turn up just to make the numbers up so we will get it 100% from whenever we get back going.”

What do you do outside of football for work and hobbies? - James Griffiths

“I own a scaffolding company based in Oldham. Other hobbies include any sport really if it ends with going to the pub after it finishes. Apart from that, most of my time is spent with my wife, kids and dogs mainly as football takes 90% of my time up throughout the year.”

Do you have a message for the supporters who, despite a difficult 2019/20 season, overall have still come out in their droves to support the club? - James Griffiths

“Yes, we would urge them all to give myself, staff and players as much support as possible. We know we’ve had a few disappointing seasons and I’m hungry to make Matlock Town successful on and off the pitch and make you proud of your hometown club.”