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.

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?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine