EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Northmore speaks out after Weston-super-Mare sacking
PUBLISHED: 13:30 26 January 2017 | UPDATED: 13:48 26 January 2017
Former Weston head coach Ryan Northmore endured a turbulent tenure in charge at the Woodspring Stadium.
The goalkeeper-turned-coach oversaw a period of boom and bust with the Seagulls, as they maintained National League South status but stability and consistency was hard to find.
On reportedly the lowest budget in the division, Northmore’s team twice defied the bookmakers who passed them off as relegation favourites.
Northmore was axed in September after almost two years in charge when a promising start to the season was followed by eight consecutive defeats, rounded off with a grim loss at lowly North Leigh in the FA Cup.
In an exclusive interview with Mercury reporter Sam Frost, Northmore has spoken out about his ‘successful’ time in charge at the Woodspring Stadium and the effect social media criticism had on him and his family.
The 36-year-old remains out of the game after his Woodspring Stadium exit, giving him plenty of time to assess his 12-year stint with the Seagulls as player and coach.
He said: “I’ve been spending some time with the family and taking a break to reflect on things. I think it’s important to go through that process.
“I miss it a lot; I’ve been in full time football for 20 years so it’s my first Christmas where I didn’t have a game on Boxing Day.
“Like anything, it’s nice to have a bit of time off but then your ambition kicks in again and you want another crack at it.”
At a fans’ forum in December, football development director Jon Haile described Northmore as ‘a good coach’ but added ‘the dynamics weren’t right’ under his leadership.
But Northmore argues he earned a few more games to prove himself.
“I think I should have been given more time,” said Northmore.
“We had a four-week period where we had two games a week, without any opportunity to get information to the players in training and we were losing games by very small margins.
“It was failure to score which led to the results being poor, but the overall performances weren’t far away from us being a good side.
“I think because we had been in that position a few times before and got out of it, I think that would have been enough for the board to trust my abilities to turn things around.”
Managing expectations is a near-impossible task in football given the passion intertwined with the game – particularly when those ambitions are unrealistic, Northmore argues.
He said: “We were favourites for relegation every year. We defied the odds every year and we did it in style, we played really well.
“We were a thorn in the side of most of the big boys in the league and I did it with young, local players that had been developed in the youth team. I even sold a couple of players into full-time football and did that on a shoestring budget.
“I feel when you’re geographically out on a limb a little bit, you’re out of the loop in terms of what other clubs are up to. Because of that, I feel the supporters’ expectations weren’t always realistic.
“You could go to the league below for players, but they are often paid more at those clubs anyway. You have to take players from two leagues below and turn them into a side and I think I achieved that.”
They say being a football fan is a rollercoaster ride, but following Weston seems more akin to being strapped into the cockpit of Apollo 13.
Weston earned 10 points from their opening four games this term, before losing eight on the bounce by the time Northmore was shown the door.
In 2015, the Seagulls battled back from five straight defeats at the start of the season to go unbeaten for three months before taking their foot off the gas and edging back towards the bottom three. The season prior was much the same.
Northmore said: “When I took over we won 10 of our first 16 games with a side that had won three of its past 15. That was the theme throughout.
“There were inconsistencies in our form because there are inconsistencies in the mentality of the players and their approach to games. Those were the main factors in that.”
Current Weston manager Scott Bartlett claims he inherited ‘some disruptive influences in the dressing room’ – though Northmore believes the spirit among his players was good.
“I think the team spirit we had was fantastic in the time I was there. I don’t feel there were bad eggs in the dressing room at all,” he said.
“The players there were working based on a togetherness which was unique. When I wasn’t there anymore that changed the way they felt about the situation at the club.
“I can’t really comment on what’s happened since I left, but didn’t feel there were any bad eggs. I feel there was one player in particular who was not the right fit for what we wanted but apart from that I would definitely say there weren’t any bad eggs in the dressing room.”
Social media equips football fans with an outlet for their frustration, and Northmore was on the receiving end of fierce personal criticism from some fans when results were not going the right way.
He recalled: “I don’t feel that the fans ever took me to heart, I don’t think I was their favourite by any stretch of the imagination.
“It didn’t feel nice – anyone who tells you any different is lying – but it’s part and parcel of being a manager, you’re always going to be criticised whatever happens.
“You can’t make everyone happy but the difficulty is the affect it has on your family and I think they took it a lot harder than I did.
“It doesn’t put me off doing what I want to do but it did affect my family. I think people took things a little out of perspective.
“At the end of the day, everyone’s entitled to their opinion but you have to put their opinion into the context of how much do they know about the club and football.”
Northmore hopes to return to senior management, and believes the lessons he learned during his time with Weston will stand him in good stead in the future.
He added: “I think I am a better manager from the experience, 100 per cent. I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way and I think I developed my practice as a coach and my managerial skills and I understand a lot of areas which affect a game of football.
“Tactically, I think I have improved as well. I see things in games now a lot quicker than I did a few years ago. Last season, I think we had 15 subs score goals, and I think that proves I can make adjustments and adapt within games to be effective.”