Mildenhall Town's new manager Phil Weavers explains why he entered the running for the job
New Mildenhall Town manager Phil Weavers believes he would have lived to regret not putting his name forward for the job.
The 34-year-old, who joined Mildenhall as a player in the summer of 2019, was selected by the club earlier this week to take over following the recent dismissal of Ricky Cornish.
Previous incumbent Cornish left The Riverside Stadium earlier this month after what was considered to have been an ‘alarming’ run of form that had seen the team slip out of promotion contention.
In many ways it is a step into the unknown for Weavers, who has never previously managed.
However, the former Bury Town centre-back and Stowmarket Town midfielder felt it was an opportunity he had to pursue.
“It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind. I’d already verbally committed to playing again next season with Ricky but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t started to think about the future and what comes next,” he said.
“I think at my age it’s only natural to start making plans .
“What happened (sacking Cornish) was a shock to the squad. We didn’t see it coming and we as players take responsibility for it because results weren’t good enough. Ricky is a great bloke and so is Colin (Vowden, assistant). They couldn’t have done more for us as players and I spoke to them before taking the job.
“The club asked me to take charge of Saturday (2-0 win over March) and as the week went on I found myself enjoying the organising. Saturday went well and I just thought I had to chuck my name in the hat.
“When do you get a chance to manage a club the size of Mildenhall as your first job? I’d have regretted it had I not at least shown I was interested.
“I’m a firm believer in being in the right place at the right time, fate and things like that.
“There’s a lot of pressure managing a club like this but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
One of those aforementioned challenges will come quickly as Weavers transitions from squad member to boss.
He will now have to make tough decisions such as dropping players that were team-mates and asking others to play out of position for the greater good of the team.
Asked how he will approach that, Weavers replied: “I think if you asked the players I’ve played with and the managers that have managed me, most of them would say I’m a pretty nice guy that is just one of the boys.
“I enjoy being one of the boys and I don’t think that has to stop completely. I know it’s the Premier League and whole different level, but you look at the likes of Mikel Arteta, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. They are all close with their players – it’s not like it used to be with a big distance between managers and players – but it’s also clear with them who the boss is and that’s the balance you have to find.
“The lads I’ve played with will tell you I’m never shy to say something if it needs saying, it’s just now I’ll have to say a bit more.
“What players want is honesty and to be told the truth. Being dropped and things like that is never nice, but you just want to be told straight.
“And we’ve got a good group of senior lads at the club – they will make sure the standards stay high.”
Weavers also intends to sign playing forms himself, although he does not anticipate being part of the starting line-up each week.
The appointment of an assistant will also be key in order to lighten the load when Weavers does make it out on to the pitch.
“I’m probably going to have to take a backward step a bit from playing,” he said. “I still feel I could play but in a lot of ways I think I can be a useful sub because I can play centre-half, left-back and in midfield.
“I’ve got a few people in mind to be assistant. I need to make sure there is someone on the touchline I can trust when I do play because I don’t want managing and playing to both be on my mind when I’m out there.
“There is a lot to management and it’s going to be a challenge, but I think one of my biggest strengths is pulling people together. I feel like I could be more valuable off the pitch.”
Saturday’s 2-0 home win against March – courtesy of goals from Tanner Call and Natty Stewart – ensured Mildenhall finished third in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division.