Roberts eager for return to management after Pickering exit

Pickering Town recently parted company with manager Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts has no hard feelings over his Pickering Town exit and is eager to return to the game as soon as possible.

Roberts, who was interviewed by NLY on Wednesday, 24 hours prior to the arrival of Rudy Funk, parted company with Pickering several weeks ago after a torrid few months.

Torrid because the club’s forced move to the Northern League turned his dream opportunity into the impossible job as attracting players proved to be mission impossible.

The Pikes hierarchy chose to make the change after the 5-0 loss at Whitley Bay, ending his reign which began in January 2020.

“It is a results based business and I hold no grudges against anyone at the club,” Roberts told Non League Yorkshire.

“We had a regular meeting and they said ‘as a board we need to be looking to move on’ so it is still a shock because I have a nice affiliation with the club.

“There’s some great people there and I still wish the club well in the future.

“It is taking time to adjust to it but that’s football works.

“I’m just very keen to get back into the game.

“Ideally I would like to come back as a manager because I have had that taste of it now and I feel I have a lot to offer.”

Pickering is notoriously difficult for managers to recruit players because of geographical location.

The Northern League move made recruitment 100 hundreds times harder.

Roberts spoke in the summer about the problems and speaking since his exit, the ex-Scarborough Athletic first team coach said the number of players who turned them down due to travelling was astronomical.

“We have spoken before on-and-off-the-record and people know in Non League Football that it is one of the toughest jobs you get because of the logistics and financial restrictions,” he said.

“I do believe a lot of managers wouldn’t take it on for that reason.

“For me it was a too good opportunity to turn down. I don’t regret taking it on.

“When I was applying for jobs before, all I was getting back was that I needed experience which I’ve now.

“Moving to the Northern League made (recruitment) more difficult than it already was.

“(If we had gone into the NCEL) some players would have stayed and conversations would have been easier.

“There was a couple of players who did agree to sign but didn’t realise what league we were in and they pulled away.

“I did really want them and I was chuffed to bits we had got them in (but then they changed their minds when they realised what league were in).

“It was proving hard in the NPL because a lot of the players I spoke to were based in Leeds and could play for a few clubs closer to home.

“I was talking to 30 players to get one over-the-line and you can move that forward to 40 or 50 to get a player in (when we moved to the Northern League).

“I must have been hitting those numbers before getting the first new player over-the-line.

“You suffer yourself because there’s nothing worse because you’re taking your time to meet players and it is always a ‘no’.

“Mentally it was difficult but I understood the task and got on with it.

“It (is a job) more difficult than a lot of clubs, that’s all I would say because you are out on a limb in that Northern League as the only Yorkshire team in the Northern League.

“Every manager we played against said ‘how do you find players, how hard is it’? 

“They almost feel aggrieved for us that we’re in that league.

“It was tough and it still will.”

The campaign began badly with the 6-0 defeat at Bishop Auckland..

Six more defeats followed, alongside one win and draw and Roberts felt the corner was slowly turning before his departure.

“After the first few games we were missing players through injury and suspension so I still believed that getting those players back would help and it did a little bit,” he said.

“Hand-on-heart when talking to the board the other week I still believed we needed three-or-four players.

“After the heavy 7-1 defeat to West Allotment and I was able to bring Harry Jessop, Tom Gooden, Nathan Dyer and Rafael Ferreira in and I still believe they made us stronger.

“But myself and the board did agree I still needed four on top of that.

“It was a difficult start but the league is quite tight and a couple of wins can take you up the table.

“I totally respect the decision they made because the board have to make sure the club does not go down again.”

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