'His eye for detail is incredible' - a player's view of Linnets boss
- Credit: Ian Burt
It's the calm before the storm as King's Lynn Town await Wednesday's National League fixtures release. CHRIS LAKEY asked defender Aaron Jones about life under manager Ian Culverhouse
What’s said in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room - but Aaron Jones is making sure he’s storing up every insight into Ian Culverhouse’s relationship with his King’s Lynn Town players.
Culverhouse’s tactical nous and his player-management skills might come in handy one day for a player with many years of his career remaining before thoughts turn to a role on the other side of the white line.
“His eye for detail is incredible,” says Jones. “I think he gets a kick out of those tactical tweaks that he makes in games that really makes the difference and that is where managers earn their money.
“I think all he asks from the players is that a) you give 100pc effort, which is like standard to most managers but he demands it. If you don’t run you won’t play. And b), that we try and impose our style, so as long as you are giving those two things - you run and try to impose our style and don’t get away from what we try and do, then he is fair with everyone.
“We can talk about players, we can talk about the chairman and we can talk about the club as a whole, the fans, but he is the man isn’t he? He is the secret to the success, I believe. There are loads of parts moving around him, but he is just a different level in terms of what he brings to the table and the philosophy, the training sessions, the level of tactical detail is outstanding.”
Culverhouse is popular with his players - but there’s a hairdryer on standby if needs be.
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“You know those units they store the kit in? He has booted a few of them, the physio might have to come in and get him some ice for his ankle! He is fair, though. When we have come in and we know that we have played poorly then you expect it, but he doesn’t do it often, which is why it still keeps its magic. I think he knows when to use it. It has been brilliant for me I am quite a budding coach, I’ve done my Uefa B licence and for me the main thing I have taken is his ability to make and see changes while the game is going on live, because that is quite difficult for most managers to do.
“You have got to be live to the situation. You have got to get it right with your subs and all sorts.
“Him and Bazza (assistant manager, Paul Bastock) are a good pair, they fit the dynamic with their personalities. You have got Cully who will usually come and give the detail and the tactical and then Bazza is a motivational man, he will try and get you in the right mindset for the game.
“There have been some team talks throughout the last three years and you go out and you are so motivated to play for the gaffer. It is like subtle things that he says and it is just like, ‘wow, alright, let’s go and attack this’. You can’t beat it and obviously being injured for 17 weeks, four months now, you realise when you are away from it. Obviously I haven’t been around that much apart from the games that I have been able to come and watch and you realise how much it means to you, your life and how much you rely on it.”
Lynn have a famously close dressing room of players, a chemistry which appeals to Jones’ man-management instincts - especially as he can make comparisons with his work in the family business - dad Albert owns the Pleasure Beach at Great Yarmouth.
“I think there are a lot of dressing rooms where probably people do get on and there is also the flip side with characters who clash, but it is not only getting on, it is the accountability side of it. It’s like in training, if someone isn’t putting the shift in and someone is slacking off the session we have had people in the dressing room who say, ‘right, that isn’t good enough, you need to up your levels’. Saying that to a mate is not easy. I think it is easier in a football environment, but in a normal working environment, which I have tasted now, if someone is in the office and you say your work is not good enough then it becomes a problem outside of work as well.
“We have had it in the dressing room where if that happened on the pitch and you say that isn’t good enough then it doesn’t carry over and effect the relationship outside of football and that is exactly the type of culture you need to create. I remember, I think it was in pre-season going into this first year at the National League we had Sonny Carey, arguably the most talented player we had got in the squad probably with Kingy (Cameron King) and I don’t know whether he had a late night or something before the session but he normally works so hard in training, but he turned up and we were doing small-sided games of four v four and five v five on two pitches and it was count how many wins you get.
"Sonny was on my side and I thought he was slacking it off, he would say otherwise but I wasn’t happy his levels and his work-rate and if it is four v four and you slack it off then there is an overload somewhere and he is going to score so me and him massively had it out. I called him everything under the sun, but then, literally, we get into the car together, we travel home together, and it is normal, it is forgotten. I can’t think of many other working environments where you can get away with that.
“Don’t get me wrong he probably had 15 or 20 minutes in the car where he was sulking, but for the most part this season it has been brilliant and I think people like Jarvs and Gashy (MIchael Gash) and Mike (Clunan) have really affected him positively and I have also said since he came to us from Wroxham, I have said ‘this kid isn’t going to be here too long’.”