Football: NON-LEAGUE NOTEBOOK - Tough start for Wright

IN CONTRAST to his former Liverpool and England colleague John Barnes, who is learning his trade as a manager in the high-pressure atmosphere of Celtic, Mark Wright is spending Christmas getting used to running a team in the Nationwide Conference.

The 36-year-old former England captain was a cultured centre-half for club and country. Wright made almost 500 first-team appearances for Oxford United, Southampton, Derby County and Liverpool, and won 45 caps. Last week, just over two years after his playing career was brought to an end by injury, he was appointed manager of Southport.

Wright succeeds Paul Futcher in the hot seat at Haig Avenue, and he has asked the former Everton midfielder Paul Lodge, who was caretaker manager after Futcher's departure, to stay at the club as his assistant. His first game in charge, last Saturday's 1-0 home loss to Northwich Victoria, was the club's fifth consecutive league defeat.

That setback left Wright with a mountain to climb, for Southport are in the Conference relegation zone, with just Welling United and Forest Green Rovers beneath them. "I know it's a long, hard road and it's going to be difficult to get this club going," Wright said this week, "but at the end of the day a challenge is a challenge. That's what gets you out of bed in the mornings."

Wright, who, unlike his squad, is a full-time employee of Southport, added: "The hardest thing is that you only get to see your players twice a week. I've got to find out which of them are on the same wavelength as me, and then bring in players who I know can do a job for me. That's when I will be judged."

Wright, who since he retired from playing has spent his time gaining Football Association coaching qualifications, clearly does not regret starting his new career at a small club like Southport.

"I see it as a great grounding in management," he said. "It's a chance for me to find out if I'm right for everything."

For his part, Southport's chairman, Charles Clapham, seems sure that he has found the right manager.

"Mark's playing career did not go unnoticed," he said, "but what was more important was his single-mindedness. Without a shadow of a doubt, he's a winner."

Wright's next test will be a local derby away to in-form Morecambe on Monday, followed by a home fixture against the same opposition seven days later. The Conference leaders, Nuneaton Borough, are at home and then away against Kettering Town on the same two days.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

Recruitment Genius: Accounting Technician

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...

Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Website Digital Marketing Manager - Fashion / Retail

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen