BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Paul Hayes reckons that Nigel Adkins was the best manager he had in his playing career.
The former Charlton striker, 37, was part of the Scunthorpe side which twice won promotion to the Championship under Adkins. He formed a formidable partnership with Gary Hooper.
“He is the best manager I played under, bar none,” said Hayes, who scored three goals in 22 appearances for Chris Powell’s 2012 League One title-winning side. “Gareth Ainsworth would be up there as well, although they are different personalities. Nigel’s man-management was unbelievable – just how interested he is to speak to people, how positive and happy he is.
“We’re talking about 10 years ago, but the things he was saying and doing were so advanced back then.
“He understood a team’s strength and weaknesses plus how to get the best out of players. He got Scunthorpe straight back up after we got relegated from the Championship and then we stayed up with one of the smallest budgets. Most of us went on to bigger and better things because of the manager.
“I don’t think there is anyone out there who can say a bad word about Nige. That, in itself, speaks volumes – he treats everyone with respect.
“It was little things. We had Jack Cork on loan from Chelsea and he was a 19-year-old boy, living away from his family. There was no room on a table at lunch and Corky went and sat by himself – Nigel went and sat with him and had a 20-minute conversation.
“He’d start to know you personally – your interests, hobbies and find out about your family. That’s where he was different to most managers.
“I had a chat with Nige about life and things about two months ago. We’ve always had a good relationship, I can pick up the phone or text him.
“He would make you go out there and give that extra bit, not just for yourself but for him as well. He allowed you to feel on top of the world but also allowed you to make mistakes. He takes the pressure off you. He was so, so good for me.
“Nige’s recruitment was second to none. He never brought in players who thought they were bigger than what they were or had a bad attitude.
“With Nige it is that everyone should think about the team.
“He has lots of sayings like ‘grab an oar – we’re all going in the one direction to a desert island. We can’t all be going in different directions or we’ll be going around and around the ocean. We’re all on the same page and together’.
“He knew what he needed to say in the dressing room.”
Hayes, whose son is in Charlton’s U12 side, watched Adkins’ media interviews after the 2-2 draw at AFC Wimbledon.
“He flips it when he is asked about the fact other clubs have played fewer games and talks about them having to play catch-up and the effects of fatigue or picking up injuries,” said Hayes.
“That is where he is so clever – to be able to spin a negative into a positive.
“Nige buys into so much at every football club to make sure there is a longevity thing even though everyone knows that every manager’s job is very month to month.
“He knows what clubs need to get into a better position. He’s got a new chairman in Thomas [Sandgaard], who is a very wealthy and ambitious man – he looks like he is going to be there for a very long time.
“I’m excited to see what is going to happen at Charlton.
“The last time he coached in League One is when he got us [Scunthorpe] promoted in the play-offs. The fact he hasn’t dropped back to that level before now shows how well he has done. He’s had difficult jobs at Reading and Sheffield United. He’s mostly left a club in the same position as they were or he has improved them.
“Nigel makes everyone buy into it. There are a lot of managers out there who would’ve been good for Charlton, but I’m really happy he is there.
Subscribe to Blog via Email
Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:
“A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or, please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ