Steve Watson: New Gateshead manager targets return to the EFL

Steve Watson (centre) with Richard and Julie Bennett
Steve Watson (centre) returns to his native north east for his first managerial role

Steve Watson hopes his appointment as new Gateshead manager will be the "last piece of the jigsaw" in their bid to return to the English Football League.

The 43-year-old was named as successor to Neil Aspin following his switch to League Two side Port Vale, his first managerial appointment.

Gateshead, relegated to non-league in 1960, reached the promotion final in 2014 but lost 2-1 to Cambridge.

"Everything is geared towards trying to become a league club," Watson said.

"There's a lot of hard work that needs to be done but we're prepared to roll our sleeves up. I hope to be the last piece of the jigsaw to do that."

Former Newcastle United defender Watson, who also played for Aston Villa, Everton, Sheffield Wednesday and West Bromwich Albion, is from nearby North Shields.

His coaching CV includes spells at Huddersfield and Birmingham with former Magpies team-mate Lee Clark, as well as the assistant manager role at Macclesfield.

Chairman Richard Bennett has maintained Gateshead's full-time status since taking over from Graham Wood in May 2015, but they have failed to reach the heights of Gary Mills' side in reaching Wembley the previous year.

Watson, who along with manager John Askey, helped Macclesfield to the top of the National League this season, arrives with Gateshead 16th in the table.

Ryan Donaldson
Gateshead were denied Wembley success in 2013-14 by Cambridge striker Ryan Donaldson's goal. Coincidentally Donaldson had left the Tynesiders for Cambridge 12 months previous.

"The club is in a strong position," he told BBC Newcastle,

"The squad is better than that position, we've got some very good players who just need to get their confidence and belief back again which is what I intend to do.

"We've got a set of fans from an area which is one of the most passionate."

Style, but not without substance

Bennett's pursuit of a new manager once Aspin had been enticed to former club Port Vale was based on finding someone whose style and philosophy were in tune with him and the fans.

And Watson is confident he can bring style to the International Stadium, but not at the expense of results.

"I want to play good football, it's one of my remits of being a manager, but it has to be successful," he said.

"I'll do anything to be successful on the pitch, in an ideal world you'd play brilliantly, pop the ball around and win games but there will be times where we can't do that in this league.

"It's my job to find the right method for the right game."