Martin Allen: Former Cheltenham Town boss on the ‘fog’ of football management


More clubs than Tommy Fleetwood? Former Leicester City, Brentford, Gillingham, Notts County, Barnet, Chesterfield and Cheltenham Town boss Martin Allen on the ‘fog’ of football management…

Former Cheltenham Town boss Martin Allen has given an insight into the stresses and strains of football management, describing it as a ‘fog’. Allen was in charge of the Robins from September 2008 to December 2009, during which time the club dropped from League One to League Two after a three-year stay at the higher level and then struggled in the fourth tier. The 54-year-old has since managed Barnet (four spells) and Notts County, as well as guiding Gillingham to the League Two title in 2012/13. But he has found it tough in the National League during spells at Eastleigh and most recently Chesterfield, who sacked him in December last year.


“You don’t sleep very well because you are trying to work out and think of things you can say and do with your staff and players to get a more positive and better performance,” Allen told TalkSport.


“Wherever you go, you have people constantly asking if you are okay, what’s happening with the team and when they are going to sack you.


“You can go on long journeys from home to the training ground at 7am, taking maybe just over an hour to get there and when you pull into the car park you think ‘did I just make that journey?’ because all you think about is what you are going to be doing.”


“After a while it gets like a fog around your head and when they actually sack you and it’s horrible, but for a couple of days you are actually just trying to sleep properly, wake up at a normal time and walk the dog with the tail wagging, but your own tail starting to wag again too.”


Allen replaced current England Under-20 coach Keith Downing as Robins boss after a poor start to the 2008/09 campaign. He had been spotted at Whaddon Road before Downing’s dismissal and Allen said it is now standard for new managers to be lined up to start work immediately after the change is made.


“Nine times out of 10 the new manager will start the next day and nine times out of 10 the people that sack you have someone lined up, down the corridor or in a hotel around the corner,” he said.


“You clear your office at 830 in the morning so you don’t see anyone and the new guy comes in, takes training at 1030 with a big bounce and happy face, tells them they are great and of course there is suddenly a different mindset and a different personality.