Ben Burgess column: A bright club’s night in the spotlight

Supporters' special night at AFC Fylde last Friday
Supporters' special night at AFC Fylde last Friday

With Blackpool having a free weekend (having been unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup by Boreham Wood), I thought I would head to potentially the best game of round two.

That was, of course, at Mill Farm between AFC Fylde and Wigan Athletic. It wasn’t just a case of watching the game for me – I was actually working as a compere in the sponsor’s suite.

This was a completely new experience for me but it was just great to be involved from the inside on such a momentous occasion for the club.

The whole club is run excellently, from the man on the door and the media staff, all the way up to the very top with David Haythornthwaite.

This is an owner who has a clear and ambitious vision for the club.

When you hear him speak about AFC Fylde in his passionate tone, and when you witness him interacting with everyone (from fans on the terrace to sponsors in the lounge), you have no doubt that he will bring success to the club and people will do anything to be on that ride with him.

The game itself was a typical cup tie, with challenges flying in from both sides.

Wigan dominated the first half as they have done against the majority of League 1 teams this season.

The second period was a different story altogether. The Coasters came out flying and had clearly decided to take the game to Wigan.

They brought ex-Blackpool striker Matty Blinkhorn on to support top scorer Danny Rowe and this partnership caused all manner of problems.

Eventually they earned a penalty that was coolly dispatched by Rowe and, despite the odd Wigan counter-attack, Fylde finished strongly and thoroughly deserved their place in the third round draw.

Of course they have the small matter of beating the best team in League 1 away from home , but with the belief and ambition coursing through the club I certainly wouldn’t bet against them, and especially with the carrot of Premier League Bournemouth in the third round.

Finally, I’ve found something I have in common with the cool, sophisticated and intelligent Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

It’s not our shared sense of fashion or even our unwavering belief in playing football the ‘right’ way.

It is in fact that we are both teachers, albeit with a huge disparity in salary.

Vincent Kompany recently said of Pep’s managerial approach: “He’s a great teacher. It made me realise how important it is for managers to be actual teachers.

“Sometimes it’s taken for granted that top professionals know everything but in reality it is quite the opposite.”

I’ve long held a similar belief that too many managers only care about the next game and are not interested in helping or challenging their players to be better.

Many hold a short-term attitude because they have very little time in the job.

Focusing only on results and how the team is performing can have a hugely detrimental effect on the young players entering the first team squad.

All players can improve, but those youngsters especially need guidance and technical and tactical coaching. I went from two sessions a day in the youth team to training an hour a day in the first team with no specific individual coaching!

I’ve mentioned before how Gary Bowyer is more like Pep. He improves players individually and helps them progress their careers, and this subsequently benefits his own managerial career as he has better players at his disposal.

Some managers don’t even attend training sessions, believing that their role is just to pick the team. Maybe Pep and Bowyer can start a revolution.