This is the first of a series of ‘Life in Football’ articles which looks at the people behind the scenes at GAFC and their careers in the world’s most popular sport.
This article first appeared in the Guiseley AFC Matchday Programme, for more exclusive content be sure to pick one up from our sellers before games at Nethermoor.
Taking the reins of a team struggling for form and facing a relegation battle is a daunting task for any new manager.
When you add in the fact that it is your first managerial job then the pressure is even higher.
Guiseley’s Interim Manager Sean St Ledger has, however, enjoyed rising to the challenge and he has handled the jump from player to coach well.
Taking over from former boss Paul Cox, who was sacked following February’s loss to Gateshead, Sean knew that he was taking control of a team lacking in confidence and desperately in need of results.
Although Guiseley’s position in the league table still looks bleak, Sean has noted that in those two areas at least, there has been improvement.
He said: “When I took over I knew the first thing I needed to do was get the confidence back.
“I felt when I was a player that the confidence was gone but I also knew from playing with them that they are all good players, they are just lacking in confidence.
“I think that since the first game I took over the performances week in, week out have got better.”
Although the results may not show it, there is reason for optimism. In Sean’s first five games in charge The Lions have come away with four points but aside from the defeats to Sutton and Maidenhead, the team has shown improvement.
“We went away to Bromley, who are a good side, and we were unfortunate to lose that game.
“Against Halifax Town we did better, we created lots of opportunities and came away with a draw with 10 men.
“We should have won that game.”
It sounds easy but trying to instil confidence in a team struggling for form is no small task.
Sean knew from his time as a player that the best way to do this was to encourage the players to play with pride and with passion.
Sean said: “As people and as footballers you have to play with pride. Regardless of what the league table suggests every time you put on the Guiseley jersey you have to give everything you’ve got in your tank.
“Most children dream of being footballers, and such a small percentage are lucky enough to be able to do it.
“It’s a privilege to be able to play for the 10-15 years you are able to because it is such a short-lived career.
“You’re lucky to be able to do something that you enjoy, so there should be a motivation in that.”
Aside from boosting the players’ confidence Sean has implemented his own style of play. He felt that the team should focus on being strong and organised at the back, whilst also having the freedom to pass and express themselves in the final third.
The results are clear to see on the pitch, with The Lions playing with a new-found purpose and aggression which has created opportunities that were lacking under the previous management.
The move to coaching felt like a logical step for Sean.
Having featured for some of the biggest clubs in England, and with 37 caps and three goals for the Republic of Ireland national team to his name, he was aware that he was coming to a crossroads in his career.
“It’s a natural career path for footballers if they want to stay in football, whether its media or coaching,” he said.
Adding: “I’ve done some media work, then this happened and it put me on the coaching path, and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it. These players are a joy to work with.”
Despite only arriving at Nethermoor in January, Sean has quickly settled in, and the club has not taken long to leave its mark on him.
Sean enlightened me by saying: “I’ve found that it’s a really nice football club with genuine people that work behind the scenes.
“I’ve enjoyed every single minute of being here, as a player and a manager.
“The results haven’t been as good as what we would have expected but in terms of coming to work here every day I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Written by Alex Smith – Alex has written a series of articles on the people who work behind the scenes at the club.
He is studying for a Masters Degree at Leeds Trinity University in Horsforth.