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Simpson cannot resist the lure of management

Paul Fletcher | 13:55 UK time, Friday, 22 August 2008

It was more out of respect and courtesy than anything else that saw Paul Simpson driving down to Shrewsbury earlier this year.

He had been invited down for an interview for the position of manager and, being a decent sort of man, went to hear what they had to say.

Several months had passed since Simpson had been sacked by Preston in November 2007 with the team 21st in the Championship table and he had been enjoying his time away from the stresses of management.

Simpson had been doing some work for the Football Association, helping Brian Eastwick with the England Under-19 team. He had been on a scouting trip to Serbia. It was enjoyable and low pressure.

simpson438.jpgThe 42-year-old had realised in the weeks after leaving North End how little opportunity he had while in management to watch his sons. One referees, another son plays rugby while Jake is on the books at Blackburn Rovers.

And so it was with a completely open mind that Simpson met the chairman, vice-chairman and managing director of the Shrews, but after a couple of hours Simpson realised the scale of ambition these men had for the club.

"It was something that I could get my teeth into and it definitely appealed to me," Simpson told me.

"The last time I had gone to Shrewsbury they were in the old stadium at Gay Meadow and that was not an attractive proposition.

"But the club is ambitious and wants to get out of League Two at a time when some clubs seem happy to survive in the division."

Football managers work incredibly hard, it is a time-intensive all-consuming job that demands total commitment. I have asked numerous managers if they could put a figure on how many phone calls they make and receive a week or how many hours they work. The answer is always the same and goes something along the lines of "I have no idea at all. It is impossible to put a figure on it".

Simpson had a conversation with his wife after leaving Preston. She asked him if there was anything else he wanted to do. Simpson is a bright man who has a degree in sports science but what he wanted to be more than anything else is a football manager. Why?

"There is a pressure and stress but I know for a fact that every single time we play at home there are five and a half thousand people who would like to swap with me," added Simpson.

"The week after a win - whether director, player, manager or supporter - is so much more enjoyable. We are fortunate in that we can influence so many people's lives and make them better."

And so far Simpson has been doing a pretty good job of making people's lives better.

After taking over at the club in early March, the former winger fulfilled his first aim of ensuring the club avoided relegation and then set about rebuilding during the summer.

His signing of Grant Holt from Nottingham Forest for a club record £170,000 certainly caught the eye. Not that many clubs spend that sort of money in League Two but Simpson is not interested in any talk of his arrival being a statement of intent. He also brushes to one side Shrewsbury's status as pre-season favourites. After all, as Simpson acknowledges he has no control over what others predict, say or think about his club.

What Simpson is hoping for is a little bit of luck along the way. His team came through pre-season without any injury problems but have lost experienced trio Graham Coughlan, Paul Murray and David Hunt since the campaign began.

Simpson has tried to bring in people with experience of success in the Football League, footballers who know what it is to win promotion. He knows that the facilities at the club are worthy of a higher division. The £15m Prostar Stadium opened in 2007 and is an all-seater ground with a capacity of 9,875. But the manager is quick to point out that "it is the football team that determines what level you play at". And he cites Leicester and Leeds as recent examples to prove his point.

The Shrews boss is a man who knows what it is to win promotion from League Two, having done so with Carlisle in 2006. Simpson reckons the division is stronger now and cites the likes of Bradford, Lincoln and Brentford as teams that he expects to have a real push for promotion.

Nonetheless, Shrewsbury have won both their League fixtures so far this season and sit second in the table.

Simpson is pleased with the start and thinks the club have made real progress since he arrived. But ask him about promotion and he will tell you "there is a hell of a long way to go". He is busy keeping feet on the ground and ensuring nobody gets too carried away.

He still wants to make changes to his squad, there are 26 professionals at the club and Simpson knows it is too many. There is more wheeling and dealing to be done. In other words, it is business as normal for a manager desperate to do the best he can.

After he was sacked at Preston, Simpson knew he wanted to "get back on the bike" and having done so at Shrewsbury it seems the likeable 42-year-old has no intention of getting off anytime soon.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Great to see some attention given to the shrews on the bbc!

    Simmo has made some great signings and we should go well, and be near the top of the table at the end of the season.

    But that is what most shrews fans thought at the start of last season, so not may are getting too carried away just yet.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well I hope he does better for Shrewsbury than he did for Preston. At Deepdale he was out of his depth and spent a lot of money on rubbish players and employed a policy of 'hoof it up anywhere' which was dreadful to watch and terrible for results.
    One example Preston paid 750,000 pounds for Kevin Nicholls - he was the worst player ever to pull on a Preston shirt and now has left for nothing back to Luton.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am very pleased that Simpson is our manager. I have alot of respect for him a personal (from what I have seen from him). His style of football and his intellect.

    Salop Salop!

  • Comment number 4.

    Simmo signed: Chilvers, St Ledger, Mellor, chaplow 4 quality players (also everyone cud c we wer lookin 4 a player like nicholls, it just didnt work out). simmo took us 2 top of league, he was a nice guy- we shud giv him the respect he derserves (an he made sedge a midfield dynamo!)

  • Comment number 5.

    Excellent to see town being featured. He seems to be doing a good job but May will tell for sure!! Good luck town

  • Comment number 6.

    Simmo despite incredibly bad luck and a little inexperience with dealing with players at high level , he took Norh End to the top of the CCC and if half of the strikers had started firing we had on the books things would've been a lot different we would be in the Prem . The season it went wrong was a carry on from the strikers not firing again and missing 4 penalties cost us many points . Summing up he saved us in 2006 we had no defence when he came injuries and vultures from the Prem taking our stars then he bought St Ledge and Chilvers a fantastic combination in our defence even now although Chils is injured , let Alexander go and proved right and a mistake with Nichols . He will be successful and does not play hoof football I watched us play Bristol City top of the CCC when at home and we played them off the park but couldn't score , he knows about football all the best Shrews . Postnote we have a top Coach /Manager now also and will reach the promised land .

  • Comment number 7.

    I've followed Simmo's career for a while now as we both share the same name and I was once on the end of a few bits of banter when he scored against my hometown club of Leeds when he was at Derby! He's one of the few genuinely nice guys of football and I wish him and Shrewsbury all the best for the season, keep it going!!.... and I've also just seen that he has a son called Jake Simpson like me too... scary!!

 

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