In episode six of our #ManagersAtHome series, we spoke to Shrewsbury Town manager Sam Ricketts about his first 19 months in charge of the Shropshire club.
“With Shrewsbury an awful lot of work has gone in, if you look at the team that nearly got promoted two years ago, that got completely ripped apart that summer, players and staff. It’s virtually a brand new team, which I again completely ripped apart. In fairness I didn't think it was strong enough and wouldn't be able to achieve what I wanted to achieve. So a lot of work has gone into that, I think we have a great foundation now in terms of being able to push onto the next level.”
“We currently sit 15th/16th depending on how they choose to finish the season, but I’m aiming for higher than that. Just before Christmas and before the FA Cup run we were two points outside of the play offs and deservedly so.
“We’d beaten all the top sides, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Coventry and we’re a match for anyone in this league but consistently we weren't able to do so. Having said all of that and all the disappointment of wanting to finish higher, if it was to finish now that puts us as our second best finish in 30 years, we’re solid but always looking to get better.”
Ricketts also opened up about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the club financially and expressed his immense pride of the community work the club have been doing during lockdown.
“The community in general touches 12-14,000 people a year, whether that be kids playing football or the elderly coming in to play, we’ve got some 5-a-side pitches, it’s a fantastically well run community. We’ve continued that now during this lockdown period. As a club we’ve tried to contact all the over 70 season ticket holders, one to ask them if they are alright and if they need any shopping doing for them and secondly, and I’ve done it, giving out isolation packs to the more vulnerable season ticket holders.”
“Me knocking on doors yesterday, people haven't come out of their house for three months. For the club to give them a tablet and allow them to log on and chat to people and do some fitness work is amazing I think.
“I think it's something that the club doesn't get enough recognition for but it's also really important because I think as a club, we hold the traditional value of being the centre point of the community and I think with the way modern football is, clubs are still doing it but they can lose their way a bit as well.
“Owners come in from abroad and they do push the community, don't get me wrong, but we're owned by a local person, run by local people and we're heavily involved in the community and that's something that's really important. Coming out of this, that will be a big positive to come out of this situation.”
On Tuesday the League One committee will meet to make a decision on how their season will finish. The Shrews boss gave us his measured opinion…
“Personally, how would I finish it? I think it's really tough, I think it's something no-one's ever going to be really happy with. I think the play-offs should try and play so they can play their play-off games and a final.
“Before that I think we should have to finish the season on points-per-game. I kind of lean towards it should be weighted (points-per-game) if I'm honest because some teams have been really good at home and they have more home games left. I think that just a blanket of just points-per-game and adding it up is very simple, and very clear and no-one can ever moan about it too much. I think weighted would be slightly better, but it's something that's never really been done before.
“It's going to be really unlucky for the teams that do get relegated, there's two in our league that would have got relegated anyway, but I think the last spot was up for grabs a little bit if I'm honest. Similarly with the play-offs, there's a few teams in there and a few outside who were one win away, or very close to it, and they will feel hard done by and possibly rightly so.
“But we're in a situation where there's bigger things than making the play-offs or making promotion. One is the health of individuals at your club and as a nation. But also the survival of football clubs in general and the financial cost of finishing the season far outweigh the benefit of playing it.”
You can watch our full interview below where Sam also talks about how he got into management, playing under Gary Speed and having a beer with Jurgen Klopp…