Yeovil Town Caretaker Manager Neale Marmon spoke to BBC Somerset reporter Ed Hadwin on Wednesday 26th March 2019, as part of the build-up to the League Two match against Newport County.
Photo © 2019 PPAUK
EH: Neale, I imagine it would have been an interesting few days for you.
NM: Very interesting. I've been in amateur football, and cut my finger in coaching, but I'm able to jump into deep water, so I've got no problem with that at all.
EH: So how did it all come about as far as you were concerned. When did you know that you would be in charge for this weekend?
NM: Well, I think a lot of people have seen me sat behind Darren (Way) since January. On Sunday I had the call, and I said I'd jump in and help out for the last seven games of the season. And of course I'm relishing it.
EH: So is it that you're here until the end of the season, and then whatever happens, happens?
NM: I'm here until the end of the season, but basically with the role with the new consortium coming in, the plan was to instate me in the role as a Sporting Director. But we'll have to obviously wait and see what league we're playing in. For me, I've been able to watch the players since January. I've obviously had lots of talks with them, so it wasn't really a difficult decision for me to say that I'd like to do it. I'd take the job on if they asked me.
EH: I guess if it's clear from the outset that you're here until the end of the season, that gives them certainty over what's going to happen during what's going to be a crucial period.
NM: Definitely. I think it's been mentioned a lot of times that the squad is very young, and the youngest in all four divisions. The atmosphere that was cooking up at the stadium here in Yeovil was getting very very intense. I don't really think it was conducive for young players to play football in that atmosphere.
EH: So what's the key? What do you need to do to change the atmosphere around here, and change the results?
NM: I'm a bit older than most coaches. I'm almost 60 now, so I've been in the game for a long time. I think I'm a bit more chilled, and not really worried about what's going on behind the scenes. My job is really picking the players up and giving them bags of confidence to play their football the way that they can. I've seen four wins since I've been here and all of those wins were pretty confident displays. So I think there's loads of potential in the team. We've just got to get them playing the way that they can.
EH: There obviously hasn't been a great atmosphere at times around Huish Park. Are you hopeful that will now change?
NM: I'm not hopeful - I know it will. I was speaking to a couple of fans at the training ground. I think the atmosphere is definitely going to change. Newport are going to be bringing quite a lot of people along. Obviously there will be people wanting to see what I do with the team, and hopefully there will be a completely positive atmosphere.
EH: You mentioned talking to the fans in training. The fact that you've opened that up - is that something that you came to a decision - was it your choice to do that?
NM: I suggested to our media man that we should do it. In Germany it's normal, apart from maybe one day a week where they train behind closed doors. But generally there's always a big contact with the fans, so they're able to justify why players in certain situations aren't as good as they are, or not. I think it gets the atmosphere going and fans can automatically judge how players are.
EH: There's been a lot of frustration from fans in terms of finding our what's going on at the club, where they're not being given the information. So the more open these things are, the less likely that is to happen.
NM: I think the key word is transparency. If you are authentic and transparent with fans, then if the performance is not up to the way that it should be, then fans will accept it because they know exactly how those people are working and how they act.
EH: So for you, you've been in football for a very long time and you've got a lot of experience. What would your team look like? What's the kind of football you'd want to see them play, if not straight away?
NM: For me, age is no difference - if you're eighteen or you're thirty - if you're a good footballer, you should be playing. I like to play football, and I'd like to think Darren has put all the tools into place. The players have got potential. The surroundings, the training facilities, the training itself are all conducive to playing good football. It's whether the boys on the game day perform. I think that in whatever sport you play, if you're not relaxed to a certain extent, you can't play any sport. That's what I'm trying to do. They need to try to relax more, and not be so tense.
EH: So to just get into their heads a bit and give them positive thoughts, rather than negative ones?
NM: Absolutely. I think the fact that I'm a bit more experienced and have been in the game a long time, have worked with kids and also worked with adults, so for me it's a little bit of the Roy of the Rovers stuff, where you try to let them express themselves.
EH: I think a lot of people found out when you arrived in January, but for those who haven't been paying that much attention, a lot of your career has been spent over in Germany, so just give us a flavour of how you've ended up here.
NM: Really it's a long story, but I'll try to keep it short. I actually played in the first official game at Huish Park in 1991 - Yeovil Town against Colchester United. Not only that, but I played in one Reserve Team game in 1978 for Yeovil, because I went to Millfield School. So I've got an affinity for the area. My father was attached to the Forces as a teacher, and we lived in Germany since 1970. When I went to college and did my degree, I wanted to get back into football, and I went to a German Third Division side. Sometimes in football you get a break, and I played in Second Division football.
EH: How do you differentiate between German football and what you've seen of English football?
NM: I think now in England, the National Team for example have looked a lot at what Germany have done. It's great fun to watch the English National Team play football, but not only that, you've got teams nowadays with a lot of new stadia in the lower leagues all trying to play football. So they're actually looking at the way German football is structured and the way they play football and they've taken it on board.
EH: I hear you've had a few successes over there and a few good memories in terms of your playing career?
NM: Very much so. I played for VfL Osnabr|ck for five years. I started there in the Third Division and got promoted into the Second Division, and then on the third year we were knocking on the door to get promoted. I then had a move to Hannover 96, which was a massive experience, because they were a big club. I came back to Colchester, which was down in a lower league, but I just wanted to play football. I returned to Germany because I had two young kids and I wanted to see them more often. I then played for FC Homburg. It was a shock as I went from playing in the Conference and eight weeks later we were playing Bayern Munich away, and we beat them in the cup. So there were a few nice experiences that I had.
EH: There aren't many people who have beaten Bayern Munich in any competition, so that must be a fond memory.
NM: And it wasn't a bad side, because I think there were nine or ten of the 1990 World Cup champions. Brian Laudrup was playing and Mazinho. So there were big stars playing and we had a good side for the Second Division and were top of the division at the time. They weren't playing that well, so we caught them on the back foot.
EH: Sounds like you can take those experiences and being them into what is a relegation dogfight for Yeovil now.
NM: I think it's those experiences, and also because I coached a Third Division level and Fourth Division level in Germany. I managed to get one team with twelve nationalities, with English and German languages. It's just those experiences that I try to convey. For me I play football just to enjoy it. The money factor is a second thing for me. I try to convey that to the players. It's the greatest hobby in the world, and if you're getting paid for it, then you'll enjoy it even more.
EH: I guess the million dollar question is how confident are you sitting here that you can keep Yeovil Town above water, and make sure that you maintain your EFL status?
NM: If I hadn't seen the team play at all, then I would ask questions. But I've seen out of fourteen games now, four wins. The first win at Mansfield was massive, and then we beat Notts County. Then the two games in between were Cambridge and Morecambe, and I'm really positive about it. I think that if we can just let the shackles off the shoulders, the players will take it on board, with the atmosphere on Saturday, which I believe is going to be really positive, I think it will be a big boost for them.
EH: How key is it getting off to a good start and getting something out of that Newport game?
NM: I think that first of all when they run out of the pitch to warm up, and they feel there's a positive atmosphere, they will not have anything bad in their heads. Obviously if we get a goal early, we've shown throughout the season that when Yeovil Town goes a goal up, we never lose. So that's obviously got to be the focus, to get a goal as soon as possible, to calm the nerves down a bit, I'm sure that the boys will run for their lives.
EH: There's fond memories in Newport from the result earlier in the season in South Wales, but they are a very good team.
NM: Very experienced. They're very robust, but like all teams in this league are. We've always got a bit of a deficit in that area, in that we're not as big as most teams. Most of the teams that play in this league are very direct, and with the young team that we've got we've got to run more than they have, because we haven't got the experience.
EH: How excited are you to get back out there and be the main man for the next couple of months?
NM: I never put myself at the front, because I'm the type of guy where I think you let the team do the talking. We prepare them as we should do, as professionals, and I think if you give them the tools to work with and most importantly that the fans are behind them, then we can rock.
EH: Just finally, staff-wise are you still having the same coaches around, or have you brought anyone else in? How is that going to work between now and the end of the season?
NM: I was asked if I wanted someone. I've seen the guys that have worked around Darren. I'm absolutely excited with the way they work. They've got a great working ethos. They can't get enough of it. So why should I get someone in who is totally strange? It just wouldn't be conducive to what we're doing.
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