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League One

Andy Ritchie's Blog 38

8 May 2013

Football managers revel in the coaching side of the job, but that's not where the role begins and ends. This week, after getting their budgets for next season, they'll also be part-accountants and part-life changers.

Knowing what they have to spend on contracts, big decisions are being made every day right across the npower Football League by the men in the hot seat. Having been there myself, I don't envy them.

Once they've done their calculations (an invaluable skill learned at football manager courses) they then have to call in each player to discuss their futures. Some will be offered new deals - not always on improved terms - and others will be told they've lost their job. It's a difficult and unnerving time for everybody.

After the final match I'd get the players in for a couple of days' training to wind down, and then after the sessions I'd have private chats with every member of the team.

A lot of the time they'll have been badgering me for weeks anyway, but sometimes I just didn't know what I was going to do until that budget was set. Telling them they have to be patient isn't easy, but in my case I was being honest because I never really had the chance to plan properly until the current season was done.

In some players' cases you'll know in advance that you'll be letting them go, and where possible I tried to do that. I'm sure a lot of the bosses across the division adopt that approach too, as it's fair on the guys themselves.

On occasion, particularly if they're in the team, you do have to wait however. It's crucial you don't upset the players while big games still lie ahead.

When I was Barnsley gaffer I looked at the end-of-season release list and it had more than 1500 names. These days it's probably even higher.

I desperately hope that the group of boys that were released this week by the likes of Scunthorpe United and Hartlepool United get themselves a new club quickly. Waiting all summer to find a job is quite frankly, horrible.

One manager that's stepping aside from a lot of the day-to-day duties is newly-promoted Brian Flynn, who has opted to move upstairs at the Keepmoat Stadium, and become Doncaster Rovers' director of football.

Even though I'm a bit surprised, I do believe he'll relish that role. As long as he enjoys a terrific working relationship with the incoming head coach, he'll be fine. You have to be on the same page for that system to flourish, and if he has a say in the appointment itself that will help too.

I'm sure Flynny fancied managing in the Championship, but this new position will be less results-driven and more stable you'd imagine. I'll be shocked if he doesn't make a success of it.

On the pitch, we probably have the correct npower League 1 Play-Off Final, with third-placed Brentford tackling fourth-placed Yeovil Town at Wembley on May 19th.

It's going to be a major deal for whoever wins under the arch. Yeovil have never been that far, and it's been 20 years since Brentford occupied a place at that level of English football.

Big clubs they may not be, but Brentford and Yeovil both have teams packed with talent.

I've sung the praises of Paddy Madden all season and he'll be a key player going forward for the Glovers, while Ed Upson impressed me greatly with his displays against Sheffield United. I felt it was fitting in a way that he was the man who plundered the late winner.

As for the Bees, I can't help but be interested in enigmatic front man Clayton Donaldson.

He's quick, strong, and gifted, but even though he's netted 24 goals in 2012/13, I still get the distinct impression he could have had a lot, lot more. If he was just a bit more polished in front of goal I'd put Donaldson in the Golden Boot category.

I know it's still a while off, but the battle of wits between relative newbie Uwe Rosler, and wise old head Gary Johnson looks set to be a fascinating one. More on that next week.

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