Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughWhy I Have Immense Respect For Dean Holdsworth - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Why I Have Immense Respect For Dean Holdsworth - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Why I Have Immense Respect For Dean Holdsworth

When the draw for the fourth round of the Carling Cup was drawn, I may surprise everyone here and say that there was only one team that I wanted Manchester United to draw. It wasn’t Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea or Spurs nor was it a strong Championship side.

It was none of them; the side I wanted United to draw was League 2 side Aldershot Town. Yep you’ve read that right and No, I am not on some form of drugs, I wanted us to draw Aldershot Town, a side that on paper you’d expect our reserves to beat (no offence ‘Shot fans).

Now why would I want United to draw Aldershot. It’s not as if the two teams have any history is there, having only played each other once in a League Cup tie back in 1970.

The reason why I wanted United to draw Aldershot is down to one reason, or should I say one person.

Dean Holdsworth (Aldershot’s manager) is somebody who I have immense respect for not just as a football manager but as a person. I wouldn’t say that I know him well, but I got to know him back in the 2007/08 season when he managed my local Non-League side Redbridge FC. So when I found out that we’d been drawn away to Aldershot I was delighted!

I have mentioned Redbridge briefly before on this site, but I have been involved with them since December 2006 when I started reporting on their games for my local radio station and have been involved with them in an official role since the summer of 2007 when I was approached by the club to be their press secretary, writing their match reports and conducting post-match interviews on a regular basis.

I am not ashamed to admit that despite being a United fan, that I am a big Redbridge fan as well and my heart will always be split between the two teams. Redbridge are nowhere near as good as United but we are a proud little club and watching us (even when we’ve been crap) has always been somewhat interesting and captivating to watch.

When I found out that Holdsworth – who of course played under Sam Allarydce at Bolton and Joe Kinnear at Wimbledon – had been announced as our manager in the summer of 2007, I was shocked but equally intrigued as to how he’d get on managing our players and who would he be able to bring in. We knew of his experiences as a player but he had also done some coaching beforehand, being Phil Brown’s assistant at Derby as well as a similar role at Havant & Waterlooville during the end of his playing career.

There were rumours that ex-pro’s including Rob Lee would join us, but these were just rumours sadly. One thing which was not a rumour was that Dean from my understanding had offers to manage clubs higher than us. But perhaps, with managers now getting less time and with the pressure his increased profile would have, he thought against joining a higher non league club or even league 2 club to ensure that he would make the most out of his taste of management.

The season started slowly though as the team had to wait until their 10th league game to record their third win. However after that everything seemed to click into place and with Holdsworth becoming more confident in his ability as a manager, the team started playing the attacking and exciting football that was promised at the start of the season. Two Manager of the month awards went Dean’s way as well.

Not only that but the team could defend as well, having the fourth best defence in the division with star goalkeeper Tony Tucker keeping 23 clean sheets. After Christmas statistically Redbridge were the best team in the division and with the season drawing to a close, had a habit keeping clean sheet after clean sheet.

In the end the team just missed out on promotion, which was still a fantastic achievement for all involved as the way the team had played that year it was a pleasure to watch them. Deep down though we knew that Dean would not be at the Oakside for very long, as he was always destined for bigger things.

In a way Redbridge were his feeder-step into Management and what he did with little money was nothing but spectacular. Even had we got promoted that year, the odds were that Dean would not have stayed with us anyway as bigger clubs were always going to take a chance on him and give him a bigger platform to direct on. And in a way, had he stayed on at us it would have hurt him possibly by not moving on.

So when a week after that agonising play-off final defeat, it was announced that Dean was leaving the club to go and manage one of his former playing-sides Newport County it was not a surprise. County, then in the Blue Square South were an attractive side to go and manage and are still now a sleeping giant in English (as after all the Welsh side play in the English football league system) football having been after a Football League team for many years.

At Newport Dean to the pleasure of those that knew him at Redbridge, has done tremendously well leading the club back into the Conference. It did not start too well for him though, as the team struggled at the start winning only 3 of their first 20 games of the league season. There were calls for Dean to be sacked from some sceptical Newport fans as the team didn’t gel at the start of the season.

However it all changed after that as Newport defeated Worcester City and then league leaders Chelmsford City at home, to get their season back on track. Results went well as Newport ended the year well finishing the season 10th with Holdsworth even scooping a Manager of the month award for April in 2009 as the league took note of Newport’s turnaround.

The rest, they say is history. In his second full season at Newport romped to the Blue Square South title winning 32 games on their way to 103 points. They had the best attack, the best defence and were the runaway leaders of the division as they kept hold of the lead for the final 30 games of the season. It was a tremendous achievement for the club, their fans and for Holdsworth who aside from getting the manager of the season award for the division, scooped 3 manager of the months awards as well.

Dean’s success as expected saw the bigger clubs looking at him and after leading the team into the Playoff Positions in the Blue Square Premier this season, a chance to move on was always going to occur this year. A chance to manage in the Football League was and has always been Dean’s dream and the chance to manage Aldershot Town was in the end too good a chance to turn down.

Aldershot are from the looks of it a good stable club and one that have aspirations of growing their impact in their local community and becoming perhaps a League 1 club. Promotion to that level may be a stretch too far for Dean, but there’s no reason why he can’t do a good job at Aldershot. His teams play the right way and there’s no reason why he can’t now be a success as a manager in the football league. Aldershot may I hope only be a stepping stone for him, as who knows he could one day be a Premier League manager

For his sake, I hope he continues to do well as he has lots of experience to offer players. Not only that but Dean took a gamble by managing Redbridge and had it gone wrong he might have had to wait a while before getting another chance. By taking the job at us, it proved that he could work wonders with no real budget and showed hands-down that he could get the best out of his players.

So when United face Aldershot tonight for me it will be a great moment seeing my former Non-League club’s manager squaring of against Sir Alex Ferguson who as we know is one of the greatest manager that football has ever seen. Holdsworth’s a top bloke and always was great to speak to around Redbridge and never gave me any problems as a young reporter interviewing and speaking to him at our club. He’s a top bloke who I hope to see go far in management.

Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87

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