Some would argue being a football manager is one of the most pressuring jobs in any industry right now. Trefelin’s Richie Ryan would not be one of them, after he was awarded Manager of the Month for September along with his club Trefelin, who won FAW Club of the Month.
After hanging up his boots, and goalscoring ones at that, he has taken the step into management after spending time coaching at Welsh League Division One side Goytre United. And in his first taste as the main man, things couldn’t have gone any better. After six games, the Port Talbot based outfit have racked up six wins.
But, Ryan has insisted that going from pivotal goalscorer for an array of clubs in his Welsh League career, to manager on the sideline isn’t a transition that has come easily to him despite the positive signs early on.
“The transition from player to manager hasn’t been easy. I still kick every ball and have to resist the urge to be on the pitch myself. I was lucky enough to win things as a player but my career was still cut short through injury having not played a full season since I was 29.”
However, things are going well for the former Welsh League top goalscorer right now in management. After spending time as a coach with Goytre United, he felt it was the right decision to link up with Trefelin and he has so far most certainly paid their trust in him back with the side comfortably at the top of the table.
“After a couple of years on the management team at Goytre Utd, I felt I wanted to make the step up and when Trefelin came calling, the decision was an easy one. It’s a fantastic set up with great people behind the scenes who work hard to bring the club every chance of succeeding. I also inherited a brilliant group of players who have responded well to everything I have asked of them.”
When Ryan arrived at Trefelin, the club had just survived relegation under the leadership of Port Talbot coach Mark Pike in their debut season in the Welsh League. This new season has brought about a new fervour and excitement at the club however, and under new management the players have responded tremendously.
For the first time manager, winning is the only aim. And after having rejected the initial interview offer as he desired a few more wins before speaking out, this was a mentality he has tried to instil in the club from the moment he arrived.
“I went in pre-season and made it clear that I wanted to create a winning mentality right through the club. We used pre-season friendlies to identify our strengths and weaknesses and are now replicating one of the best habits in football – finding a way to win games when not always playing well.”
It is new territory for the club after finding themselves in the lower half of the league for their maiden season in the Welsh League, but the manager, who has five Welsh League titles to his name, will be using his experience and nous in order to keep his players’ feet grounded, especially ahead of their test against hotshots Swansea Uni FC.
However, the Trefelin boss will ensure his charges will be ready for the challenge ahead of them and will no doubt deal with it in his stride, much as he has done with every other challenge put in front of him so far in his career, and Trefelin’s board will be no doubt the happier for it.
“The average age of our squad is 22, so some of the boys are still learning the game and I think it’s a fantastic environment for them to do that. It’s my job to keep their feet on the ground and with 6 wins from 6, you’re there to be shot at. But that’s something I’m used to and am looking forward to the challenge.
Right now, we are not looking any further than our next game against title favourites Swansea uni. They train or play every day, which is a great luxury to have at this level.
They’ve also got some great players who I know very well. No doubt it will be a massive test for us but it’s one we will be ready for.”