Assuming the rumourmill is correct, Yeovil Town are about to announce the arrival of Darren Sarll as their first team manager, providing a permanent replacement to Darren Way, who left the club three months ago. The 36 year old is best known for his two year spell as Stevenage's first team manager, although was most recently Watford's Head Of Academy. He's also held roles with Brentford and Rotherham United.
Sarll's playing career was as a midfielder for a variety of non-league clubs all based in the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire area. He never got above National League South level, working his way through Hitchin Town, Berkhamsted Town, Bedford Town, St Albans City, Chelmsford City (loan), Dunstable Town, Hemel Hempstead Town, Chesham United and Biggleswade United before disappearing off into Sunday League football.
He began his coaching career around 2005-06 when he began to get involved in Stevenage's Community Sports Trust. He then moved up through the ranks at Broadhall Way, through the Community Trust's Under-16 side, and then into their Centre of Excellence where he became their Under-18s manager, climbing as far as being their Reserve Team Manager during the 2007-08 season under Peter Taylor.
He then moved on to Brentford for the 2008-09 season, initially as their Under-18s manager, but after a managerial change which saw Andy Scott promoted, Sarll also saw his own role increased as he became a First Team Coach as well as their Reserve Team Manager during 2009. He left Griffin Park in May 2011, which saw him follow Scott to Rotherham United, becoming their Head Of Player Development in July 2011. Scott was sacked towards the end of that season and that saw Sarll also leave at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Sarll returned to Stevenage in June 2012 as their Head Of Youth, keeping that position for three years. He then became Stevenage's Assistant Manager under Teddy Sheringham in June 2015, briefly taking over as Caretaker Manager when Sheringham was sacked in February 2016. Although he had a sticky start to his first role in management, the arrival of Glenn Roeder as a Football Advisor helped stabilise things and improved form saw Sarll given the job on a permanent basis in May 2016.
During Sarll's time at the club, they finished 18th in the partial season after he took over from Sheringham, but then improved by finishing 10th during 2016-17. With his previous job having seen him look after the Youth side of the club, he obtained a good reputation for bringing through Academy players, as Dale Gorman, Jamie Gray, Mark McKee and Luke Wade-Slater were introduced into the first team set-up. Most notably he helped develop Ben Kennedy as a winger along with defender Ben Wilmot. The later became the EFL's League Two Apprentice of the Year for the 2017-18 season, and was transferred to Watford for a club record fee, reported to be in the region of £1 - £1.5 million depending on which media you read.
Sarll's problem at Stevenage was a lack of consistency in his results, and his time ran out on March 18th 2018, with Stevenage heading for a 16th placed finish that season. His overall record saw him manage for 114 games, recording 41 wins and 26 draws, with a win ratio of 36 percent. He was fired from his first team management position, but initially was kept on as the club's Head Of Youth Development.
In June 2018, Sarll headed out of Broadhall Way entirely, taking up the position of Head Of Academy at Watford. His remit was to work with the older age groups, including their Under-18s and Under-23s. However, that role unravelled in January 2019 when Watford suspended him from his position. There was little detail behind the allegations, but it was widely reported that the Hornets had temporarily removed him from his post due to allegations of bullying players. Whilst an inquiry was underway, Watford and Sarll decided to part company two weeks later, with the club's statement only describing the departure as being by mutual consent:
"Watford Football Club has amicably parted ways with Head of Academy Darren Sarll. We'd like to thank Darren for his efforts and achievements on and off the pitch, and wish him all the best for the future. Darren has brought a wealth of experience to his role, has been nothing but dedicated during his time at Watford and is now moving on to his next challenge, which we are sure he will make an equal success of."
Since his departure from Watford, on February 14th 2019, Sarll has been out of work, and so if he is appointed as Yeovil Town's new first team manager, he will arrive without any current ties. At the time he left Stevenage, only his Football Advisor Glenn Roeder left the club at that stage, although Sarll's first team coach Nicky Shorey later left the club in May 2018 and is currently available.
Sarll's former boss Andy Scott was interviewed about Sarll in February 2017 and had this to say about his former assistant manager, who he first met on a UEFA A Licence course at Lilleshall in 2005 which saw Roy Keane, Gareth Southgate, Martin Keown and Steve Claridge all in the same room. Scott said that Sarll wasn't intimidated by being surrounded by such big names, and remembered that when he eventually took him on as his assistant manager:
"Darren wasn't afraid to make his point or stand his ground against these guys. And he kept asking question after question – he was desperate to make the most of it. Straightaway, I liked his enthusiasm and willingness to learn. The thing I valued most about Darren is his loyalty. He'd do anything for you as a manager, even to the detriment of his own job. He was extremely hard working, very conscientious. We involved him in all the meetings we had because I knew he wanted to be a first-team manager down the line. I also wanted people who would ask questions and challenge opinions. In that sense, he was the same then as he was in that room at Lilleshall."
Scott felt that Sarll had learned a lot from his early days, where his approach was initially a bit too theoretical about his approach to the game, but praised his ability to consult with other people about his techniques, even leading up to his days at Stevenage:
"Initially, he was very idealistic in what he wanted to do on the training ground. In reality, you have to be more pragmatic. You've got a group of strong-willed lads and you're trying to coax them to do something. I think he learned from myself and (assistant) Terry Bullivant about man-management and delivering a consistent message. The one thing you can be sure of with Darren is that he'll seek opinions. To this day, he's not afraid to ask questions. When he got the (Stevenage) job last season, we had some good, long chats about what the squad would need. Even now, we speak maybe twice a week. Not many managers would ask advice. They think it makes them look weak. But Darren has always done that because he's come from that background where he had no other choice but to seek other people’s knowledge. To me, that's a great advantage."
At present, Yeovil Town have not confirmed Sarll's appointment as manager, but if the claims are true, an announcement should be made sometime today.
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