Honest John

HEARING that John Sheridan is “hurting” and that he does not like criticism was as startlingly unexpected as it was admirably candid.

The normally reserved Argyle manager peeled back some of the veneer that is almost demanded from participants in the often crazy world of football during the build-up to the Pilgrims’ home Sky Bet League 2 game against Bury on Saturday.

Amid routine press enquiries about such things as the strength of the opposition, who will replace suspended Conor Hourihane as Argyle captain, and Tope Obadeyi’s hamstrung leg, the Plymouth Herald’s Chris Errington picked up on BBC Radio Devon’s Phil Harlow’s earlier observation that John – who is three weeks away from his first anniversary as Pilgrims’ gaffer – is in the top half of the longest serving English football managers.

Why, Chris gently enquired, would anyone want to enter such a harsh, unforgiving, brief, brutal profession?

“I’ve only ever been in football; since I was nine or ten,” said John. “God knows what I would have done if football wasn’t there. I was lucky – I was born with a bit of talent and very fortunate to play for a long time.

“When I was a player, I liked a laugh and a joke but I was very serious when the ball was out and on match-days. I’ve brought that.

“It is a very stressful job, I have got to admit. It is very up and down but, if you are doing well, there are rewards at the end of the day.

“I’ve got a family, a wife, and that’s why I’m working. Football is my life and it’s a job, and I really appreciate what job I’ve got.

“It can be one of the best jobs in the world if things are going right for you, but you are up and down.

“I value everyone. Everyone has got an opinion, more so than years ago – even when I was a player. Today, there is so much media and different things.

“It’s part and parcel of the job. You have just got to get on with it.

“Listen, I don’t think anyone likes anyone talking negative about you and I’m sure, deep down inside, you like people saying good things about you.

“I’d rather have the second one. I don’t like it when people say ‘You’re not doing your job’.  But I do understand where people are coming from. People spend good money to come and watch their beloved club, especially here, where they have had hard times for the last couple of years.

“I know what they want. And I want it more than them, believe me.

“Things went alright last year because I kept the team up. I don’t think we played great, but my priority was just keeping them in the League.

“I’m hurting at the moment, because I want to be higher in the league and because I really do think that, on our day, we are as good as any team in the league, and I was expecting us to be higher.

“But there is still a long way to go and lots of points, and I’m very confident in myself and my players - I have got a good group of players – that we can get into the area that I want to be at the end of the season.”