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INTERVIEW: A club with potential

15 October 2014

Assistant manager Colin West on his new role at the club

Assistant manager Colin West teamed up with former-boss Keith Curle when the pair joined the club ahead of the Mansfield away game last month.

We spoke to him last week to find out more about his decision to come to Cumbria.

“It all happened quite quickly,” he said. “I knew Keith had been for an interview and it all went from there. We had to make our minds up and we decided it was something we wanted to get on with and do.

“Keith and I have kept in touch for a long time, whether we’ve been in or out of work. We’ve been good pals for years and he wanted to get back into the game as quickly as possible. I was the same so we looked at certain positions, some of which would even have been working away from each other.”

“This opportunity came up and it meant we could work together again, and that’s something we are really happy to do,” he told us. “Keith and I work well together because we know what each other wants. 

“I think he likes to have me around because I’ve got an opinion and I let him know about it. It’s up to him whether he then goes with it or he goes his own way. Whatever he says, as his number two you’re going to back him up all the way anyway. 

“We’re very good at bouncing ideas off each other and it’s an excellent working relationship. When you have that level of trust it makes the job easier to do because you know you can rely on each other.”

On when they first came across each other, he said: “When I went to Sheffield Wednesday, Keith was at Mansfield, and we were virtually neighbours. We got on well and it’s snowballed from there over the last seven or eight years. 

“We obviously got on really well at Notts County and the opportunity to come and work here was one we both wanted to take on. We have a way of doing things and we think it’ll be successful for this club.

“We like to keep things organised and we like to make sure the players have a clear picture of what they have to do when they go on the football field. We try to simplify the player’s jobs as much as possible so they can get on with it in game situations.

“The players have been very receptive to what we’ve said. It’s a case of not over complicating things because, and with no disrespect to anyone here, the higher you go up the more players tend to be able to work things out for themselves. These lads have been excellent and we always try and encourage people as much as we can.

“The approach we have is definitely to bring players on rather than blast them. Throwing the tea pot round the dressing room is more old school. We’ve found that if you want players to do the right things encouragement is much better. Obviously you have to know your players, and sometimes they do need a kick up the backside, but in my experience they all want to learn as much as they can and we are here to help with that.” 

Looking back at his own career, he said: “I started at Sunderland many years ago and I enjoyed my time there. I’m a Newcastle United supporter so I wasn’t actually able to say much about that at the time. I went through the youth system with them and I was a decent size at that age, so it meant I could handle the physicality of it all. 

“I got into the team at 17 and I managed to score a couple of decent goals that kept us in the league. I pushed on from there. I remember we had a team meeting right at the start of it all, because we were at the bottom of the table, and I was scoring regularly in the reserves at the time. I decided I had to speak up because I felt I deserved a chance. The first team strikers weren’t scoring, so I pointed that out, and the manager [Alan Durban] stuck me in the team. It was either going to work or it was going to be bust. 

“It all seemed to work out and I thought I had a decent career. Scoring goals is what I did and it’s what I enjoyed. That’s what you try to bring to a club like this when you’re working with Mark Beck, Steven Rigg and the other lads.” 

“I’ve always loved football and it’s something I’ve always wanted to be involved in,” he continued. “I knew I wanted to coach after my playing career was over and I got that opportunity through Chris Turner, who I had played with at a couple of clubs. 

“Again, that was another trust issue, which a lot of managers and coaches have, and I took my badges to make sure I got qualified. I’ve had a couple of spells as caretaker manager and they were good experiences. 

“It’s all about organising the team for the games when you’re the caretaker and you don’t get all of the responsibility dropped on you straight away. I had a fairly good success rate with it so I think maybe a little bit further down the line I wouldn’t mind having a go in the manager’s seat. I’m quite happy with what I’m doing at this moment in time so we’ll just wait and see on that.”

“I’ve been to Brunton Park as a player and this is a club with a lot of potential,” he said. “I came here when I was at Hartlepool and there was somewhere between 9,000 and 12,000 people here. To me, if we can get back to playing attractive football this place can take off again. 

“I’m enjoying working with the group. They’re a very good bunch who have just been lacking a little bit of confidence. Mark Beck is a good example of that. He’s like a sponge at the moment because he wants to listen and learn. The rest of the squad is exactly the same and I think the results have shown there is a real determination to keep pushing on up the league.”

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