Darren, welcome to the club but first of all how nice is it to get this done and officially be manager?
DS: It’s very nice to be appointed and I’m very grateful to the board and the potential new board. It’s been a long time coming and a very thorough process for myself and a thorough process acted out by the club, and it’s an exciting day. I always thought this was a really smashing and a big club and I’m proud and honoured to be chosen in leading it in its next journey.
It’s something of a new era. You mentioned you’ve met the current board and the potential new board, how challenging has it been dealing with a club in a transition phase?
DS: All I can ever be is myself and honest and upfront and work with integrity. The timing, we’re quite late in the day but again, how thorough and how detailed the process was from an applicants point of view trying to get the manager’s position was more of the challenge, more of the test. But obviously, I’m really pleased to be here and Monday cant come quick enough.
As someone who’s been there and done it in terms of a pre-season plan, how much of a problem is it coming in this late?
DS: You do a lot of your recruitment during this time and due diligence in terms of the people you want to bring to the football club and the reasons why they can come, how they get here and obviously, we’re going to have to fast track that. Not quickly, not naively but correctly. There will still be a process and a period of time before we can start unveiling new players and making good decisions because building a football team is pretty simple; in the bare nuts and bolts of it is that you have to make good decisions about players and people, and if you can make more good than bad you can end up with a successful team, but if you make some poor decisions we end up with a bad team representing a smashing football club.
Was it quite appealing for you that you haven’t inherited much in terms of a squad, it’s something of a blank canvas?
DS: We have to work within tighter financial constraints and that will never be used as an excuse, I’m well aware of that. We need players ready to come here and play in this league which is a very different challenge. If you think it’s the Football League, it’s not, it’s very demanding and very intense but it’s also got that wholesome integrity to it and a real readiness with players to work hard to get into the Football League or back into the Football League and improve their own lives and own clubs’ destiny. This next year will really sort the men out from the boys and the players have to understand and the supporters have to understand that now. I really don’t have another gear in me other than to head straight on and to go at everything with as much intensity as I can. I’ve always been renowned for creating elite player environments and I expect to do the same at Yeovil.
Is it too early to know the kind of identity you want your team to have?
DS: It’s very clear what this remaining group needs. We need a massive mentality shift here, not just in the changing room but in the boardroom and in the stands. There’s only one way to get out of this situation and that’s to fight, roll our sleeves up together and fight for dear life and carry on fighting until we get this football club back to where we’d like it to be. We’d all love it to be back in the EFL but have to understand were inheriting a team that’s lost largely for the last three years and to swing the mentality into a winning mentality will take a real dose of personality, courage, determination and will need some really strong leaders and characters who’ve been scarred almost from football and seen what this league is about and we have to start doing that now and attack things head on.
Essentially what you’re saying is that no one can feel sorry for themselves after last season.
DS: It’s the same with any players situation. When a player is feeling down or has a lack of direction or motivation, no good comes from moping or having a bad attitude. The only way to deliver some positivity and wins – because it would be nice to have a winning season – is if we pull ourselves up and that’s a real team effort. It doesn’t end with the manager, it doesn’t end with the players, its all of us. It’s the boardroom all the way down to tea ladies, laundry ladies, groundsmen, everyone. We have to 1) understand the situation we’re in and accept it and, 2) lets fight for dear life to get ourselves out of it and the quicker we accept the current situation and accept where we are, we can get back up and be proud of our football club quicker.
What can the players expect from you as a manager?
DS: I’m a really honest person and there’s no grey area with me. I’m very clear with what I expect and if you had any endorsements from players I’ve worked with, they’d be positive endorsements id be sure of that. They’re going to have to work really hard and if any of them are feeling in a position where ‘I’m not a National League player’ then they need to shake themselves out of that delusional state. This is where we are, this is what we’ve got to do and this is what we’ve got to achieve to call ourselves Football League managers, coaches, players, physios, recruitment staff, press officers. It’s so important we come with that sort of outlook because there’s only one remedy and it’s really going at it as hard and long as we can in terms of fighting for this football club.