Kettering Town must 'move on quickly' as hunt for next boss gets started

The Poppies suffered a dramatic defeat to round off a crazy 24 hours which saw Paul Cox resign as manager

By Jon Dunham
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 8:04 pm
Updated Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 8:08 pm
Former player and current academy director Luke Graham took charge of Kettering Town in the wake of Paul Cox's shock departure
Former player and current academy director Luke Graham took charge of Kettering Town in the wake of Paul Cox's shock departure

Luke Graham wants Kettering Town to “move on quickly” from a crazy 24 hours.

The Poppies were left stunned when Paul Cox resigned as manager on Friday evening before being unveiled as the new boss of Vanarama National League North rivals Boston United, taking his coaching staff of John Ramshaw and Ben Marvin with him.

Academy director and former player Graham received a call at 6pm to ask if he would take the team for today’s clash at Bradford (Park Avenue) along with technical director Alan Doyle.

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In the end, the Poppies suffered a dramatic 2-1 defeat to the 10-man hosts as Decarrey Sheriff’s late equaliser was followed by a stoppage-time winner for Bradford.

Graham was understandably disappointed with that final outcome but the immediate focus is on who will be the permanent replacement for Cox.

The Northamptonshire Telegraph understands that an appointment could be imminent with a new manager in place ahead of Tuesday’s home clash with Kidderminster Harriers.

And Graham insists the Poppies are right to try to move on quickly.

“There are going to be some meetings tomorrow (Sunday) and Monday and I will be involved in that process with the owner and the board,” he said.

“I think it’s vital that whoever is next buys into the project.

“The club is on the up and there is a good group of players to work with so we need a manager who buys into what we’re trying to do.

“It’s an attractive proposition. We might not have the facilities quite where we want them to be but we are getting there year in, year out.

“There are some important discussions to be had about how we find the right man.

“It’s exciting. As much as there is disappointment with Paul leaving, football moves on quickly.

“They will move on quickly at Boston and we have to do the same. I think it’s a different proposition to what it was two years ago when Paul took the job. It’s moved on a long way on and off the field.

“There are lots of good managers out there with experience of getting clubs out of this division so it’s down to the board to go and find what they want.”

Graham revealed owner Ritchie Jeune spoke with the squad ahead of the game at Bradford to try to give them “clarity” after a tough 24 hours.

“I have been really impressed with the boys,” Graham added.

“I got the call at 6pm on Friday when I was having dinner with the kids! I had no idea I was getting that call so it was an SOS and I was happy to help out.

“The clarity is what the players needed and I made sure I spoke to each individual on the coach to put clarity in their minds.

“As a club we have to move on and up until this point it has been a progressive season.

“Some of the boys are looking to have careers in the game so you can’t sulk.

“In football, you have to want to do things for yourself first and foremost. Then you have to do it for your friends and family and then you have to do it for the club you play for.

“Some of these boys are on an upward curve but they have a long way to go.

“They have a chance of finishing high up in the league this year and we have made it clear that, as a club, it’s a case of onwards and upwards.

“We have big plans off the field and we will find the right person at the top of it.

“We had the owner in the dressing-room before the game to say a few things and the boys have had a bit of clarity.

“But it can’t have been easy for the boys after the past day or so and I have to give them credit for really listening to me at half-time when we changed things.

“To a man, they gave me everything in the second half and I enjoyed watching us play.

“It’s a learning curve after that last minute but we felt the game was there to be won and we tried to go for the second goal.”

The dramatic finish was a killer blow for the Poppies but Graham was delighted with the way the team adapted to a major change of system at half-time following a disappointing opening period.

“Quite honestly, in the first half we were very poor on the ball,” he added.

“We knew Bradford would sit deep so, on a 3G surface, you need to get a few extra passes in and I just said we needed a more attacking threat and be brave.

“We changed the system and went to a 4-3-3 and I wanted us to get at them. I told the boys that whatever happened would be on me.

“They were superb in the second half and Bradford had to change their system a couple of times to combat our attacking threat.

“We were probably lacking a clinical finish in the second half but we got the goal and then football can kick you where it hurts sometimes.

“We haven’t defended the set-piece in the final seconds and the lads are gutted and I am gutted because they deserved more out of the game than what they got.”