James Rowe interviewed AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor, discussing the challenges of managing in the National League and looking back on his playing career with Tranmere Rovers.
You have been manager of AFC Fylde since 2011. Did you always have ambitions to become a manager?
When I was getting to the end of my playing career I always wanted to stay in football in some capacity so I did a physiotherapy degree when I was finishing at Bury FC. I did the course part time as a way of staying in if you like.
I also did my coaching badges but jobs and opportunities are sometimes hard to come by so once I got the opportunity to be a manager I absolutely jumped at it as managing a club was my first choice.
I have noticed that AFC Fylde have had a great start to the season at the time of this interview* you are currently 3rd in the National League. What are the strengths of this AFC Fylde team?
To be fair we have a new group of players and we have tried to learn lessons from last season, as that was our first season in the National League and we had to learn quickly.
We have taken the decision to strengthen the areas that we needed too. I believe that we are pretty unique in the way that we try and play. The players we bring into the club know what is expected of them and they are given the freedom to express themselves on the ball.
In the past four seasons we have been known for scoring lots of goals and we became the highest scorers in our respective leagues pretty much every season.
We have started defensively well this season as well so if we can combine the two that could be a recipe for success.
Are there any specific objectives that you have set as a club and a squad this season?
We want to improve year on year and that will be the case this season. I believe that we made a rod for our own back last season with doing so well, and we want to try and go further in the FA Cup and FA Trophy than last season.
We must be flexible with our objectives and be able to adapt as the season goes along. For example the FA Trophy perhaps became a little less important to us last season due to having a replay in the FA Cup, and at the time we were not doing so well in the league.
The National League is our absolute priority this season. I am a true believer that if you are doing well in one competition the other competitions will coincide with that, and that means that we can flight on more than one front.
Our ambition is to be a football league club by 2022. That is the current chairman’s plan.
When he arrived at the club in 2007 he put a 15 year plan together and we are maybe a little bit ahead of schedule, but we also know that this is the biggest jump because there are so many teams vying for that football league spot.
I would like to ask you about your playing career. You spent eight years playing for Tranmere Rovers. How do you look back on your time at the club?
It was brilliant. Tranmere Rovers were my club. I supported the club and I went to watch them when I was in high school and I went all over the country watching them with friends.
I ended up signing as a professional with the club, and I was fortunate to play many matches for them. I still live local to the area and it’s always a club that I will remember fondly.
I have great memories of my time that I will remember forever really, and even now I love going back to Prenton Park as a manager.
You had a good career. When you look back could you say who were the best players that you played alongside?
At Tranmere Rovers Jason Koumas was a great player who came through the ranks.
He had unbelievable ability and should have been playing for a top six club with the ability he had. He eventually got a move to West Bromwich Albion and had a good career.
I also believe that the team we had at Tranmere Rovers was very underrated, maybe down to me in a way by the fact that we utilised my long throw ability. I believe that detracted a lot from the ability we had in the team.
I also played with Rickie Lambert and Ashley Williams at Stockport County who have gone on to have great careers not just at club level but at international level too.
I played with David Nugent at Bury at the time before he went on to play for Preston North End he then went on to be capped for England.
Finally Dave have there been any managers that you have played under in your career that have been influential in terms of development or advice?
When you are playing you subconsciously take on different bits from different managers and in turn you use that when you are managing yourself.
When I started off at Tranmere Rovers I had Johnny King who was a very experienced manager and a deep thinker.
Under John Aldridge the dressing room was really experienced and a lot of information was passed on by senior pros David Kelly and Wanye Allison.
I would say that you look to use the best parts of all the managers that you play under.
Whether you are a very young player or an experienced pro you are always learning and that is something that I have always tried to do.
*updated tables can be found here
Featured image from afcfylde.co.uk