Interview | Nelson discusses his Spartans player-manager appointment

Photo credit: Emilio Andreas Leal Kirtley

Blyth Spartans player-manager Michael Nelson has described his appointment as a ‘whirlwind’. 

Nelson originally moved to Croft Park on a playing basis last week but will now take charge of first-team affairs following the departure of Lee Clark and Paul Stephenson earlier today.

It has been a somewhat crazy few weeks for Nelson, who was recently assistant manager to Graham Westley at League Two side Stevenage. 

Nelson explained to “Blyth Spartans has got a lot of history and very passionate supporters. It’s something that I wasn’t expecting so soon – even at all.

“Paul got in touch when I left Stevenage and asked me to come in and help out on a playing basis. 

“I went down to Stevenage and was looking forward to that but it didn’t last too long. Things have obviously developed massively since then so it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. 

“What has transpired over the last day – it has all been a bit of a surprise. I am delighted to be manager but obviously disappointed for Paul and Lee. 

“They’ve had a tough run through the season. I’m disappointed that they’ve brought me in and I hadn’t had a chance to play under them or reward them for showing faith in me.”

Indeed, Nelson steps into his first managerial role with plenty of experience. 

Nelson had a successful career in professional football with the likes of Bury, Hartlepool, Norwich City, Scunthorpe, Kilmarnock, Bradford City, Hibernian, Cambridge and Barnet. 

He spent six years of his career at Pools, where he made over 300 appearances – including a Wembley appearance in the 2005 League One play-off final.

Before moving to Stevenage at the turn of the year, Nelson was a player-coach at Gateshead, which he hopes will stand him in good stead during the final months of the season.

He added: “I’m still registered as a player so it will basically be a case of if I think I need to play when I still can. If not, then I’ll be in the dugout. We’ll just take it as it comes. 

“Being player-coach at Gateshead will help massively in terms of knowing the level and knowing the type of teams we are coming up against. 

“I worked at this level for the first half of the season reviewing games etc and trying to come up with a plan that tries to counteract the opposition. 

“My time at Gateshead will be invaluable.” 

Nelson also alluded to Spartans’ position in the National League North table, who are fighting against the drop. 

“All we can do is to aim to win as many games as possible,” Nelson admitted. “I’ll meet with the players on Thursday night ahead of Saturday and take it from there. 

“It’s a cliche but we just have to take it one game at a time and try and make sure we get enough points on the board to get us where we want to be.”

Posted by Jordan Cronin