Tisdale insight into City

Joseph Bulmer

What a night. Two hours of fascinating insights into life at Exeter City just before the transfer deadline, with the wit and wisdom of manager Paul Tisdale. Along the way the East Devon Grecians presented ‘Tis’ with �1,000 they had raised, and a raffle brought in another �158 on the night.This was vintage Tisdale; charming, witty and thoughtful, and careful not to spill any beans. For two hours he held a full house at the War Memorial Club spell-bound, culminating in a detailed account of how he came on as a sub for the final 10 minutes of last season’s match at Hillsborough.

Here is a summary of the evening from Nick Thompson:

EDG: Will there be any comings or goings in the next few days?

PT: Maybe, it’s 50/50. I don’t know of any but the phone may ring. There are people who would like to take some of our players and if the offer is good we will consider it.

EDG: That match against Brazil – will it be two legs?

PT: Yes, that would be good! It’s quite exciting, and we’ve been working on it for a couple of years. However, I don’t think Flybe planes can reach Brazil, and if we went by coach it would be a very early start.

EDG: I watched the Under-18s play QPR, and they were really good, notably Kane and Gosling. How soon will a player like Jake Gosling get into the first team?

PT: It depends on the player. Jake Gosling trains with the first team, so we know he can play well, but it’s a matter of mental attitude, to cope with the pressure among other professional players. Some young players will take longer than others. Liam Sercombe could handle it when he was 16.

EDG: How does City’s budget for players compare to other clubs in League One?

PT: There are published figures for all this. We get around �100,000 from the Trust each year, which puts us in the bottom four of the 24 clubs in League One, and it would put us about half way down League Two. The top eight clubs in League One have around four or five times as much to spend. This season’s gates are about 1,000 down on last’s. That’s 24 home matches times 1,000, times the price of a ticket. Also, due to the clubs that came and went last year we get fewer away fans, and have higher travel and hotel costs; that’s cost us around �100,000.

EDG: You’re now the sixth longest serving manager in the Football League. What are your plans?

PT: I know most of the managers in the Football League, and almost all have an axe to grind against their clubs; owners or chairman who make arbitrary decisions, or won’t answer the phone if you’ve lost a match. I have the Trust, and I am left to get on with it. I never expected to be a manager or coach, and I am lucky to have the job. I can sleep at night. I always wanted to have autonomy and freedom. I have a close friend I discuss career plans with, and when something comes up he always says “stay at Exeter”.

EDG: Centre Halves...Duffy, Archibald-Henville and Coles. Best combination?

PT: All good players, but there are always reasons why you can’t play everyone. Duffy is best at connections between defence and forwards, but the others have talents too. We will see more of Elliot Freer.

EDG: Ben Hamer and Matt Taylor and coming with Charlton, should we cheer them?

PT: That’s up to you. Matt was fantastic for us, very diligent, but he was hampered by a back injury. Did you know he came to us on trial as a goalie, but his back was bad so he played in mid-field and impressed us?

EDG: How do you prepare for a game?

PT: It depends who we’re playing. Charlton have a steady obvious game with few team variations. They are top of the league and best in the league, though we beat them home and away last year. I have a team in mind to play them.

I have four reports on Charlton from agents. I know how they play with 10 men, their plan for corners, the markers, counter-attackers, etc.

There is a “drop box” on my computer every Sunday, we have a staff meeting on Thursday when I generally know who will be in our team for the next match, and the coaches work with the selected players.

EDG: So have our players seen the Charlton goals?

PT: If they had they might not turn up! We’re more selective, eg Tully will see the corners, the Goalie will see the penalties. In the Sheffield Wednesday match Duffy wrongly told Artur which way the penalty would go, and he didn’t save it. (Duffy was “told not to do that again...”) We don’t want to overload the team with how good their opponents are!

EDG: I have friends who support other teams, but they all say Exeter has a good reputation, and there’s always speculation about PT moving on.

PT: All sides of a business benefit from doing things properly. Being a respectable trustworthy club make it simpler to get a sponsor or sell a page of advertising in the programme. It’s easier to deal with agents as they know you’re not “being funny” when talking fees. Trust takes a long time to earn and is easily lost.

EDG: In a survey, City fans are top for being “satisfied” with the club.

PT: I hear plenty of grumbles, so it makes you wonder about the other clubs!

EDG: Are you in contact with Jamie Cureton and will he come back as he’s not getting many matches?

PT: No and No. I have spoken to him but not recently. He may regret moving; he won’t be released for nothing.

EDG: Have you paid your tax on your transfer bungs?

PT: That would be a nice problem to have!

EDG: Why doesn’t Artur wear a cap when facing the sun?

PT: I don’t know. We need to win the toss more, particularly for winter sun matches.

EDG: How is the pitch?

PT: Wonderful. We spent �200,000. Some pitches cost �2,000,000. Ours is great. We can train at SJP on Friday and on Saturday and you wouldn’t know it. We have great ground staff.

EDG: Logan is the most rounded forward, we need a good winger, and Nardiello for Logan to play off. Should I be manager?

PT: If only you knew......Logan has been here five years, he has good and bad days, as does Nardiello.

EDG: What do you think about players on Facebook and Twitter?

PT: I don’t like it. I am not on Facebook, though there is someone called “Paul Tisdale”. It’s not me!

EDG: Do you mind which direction you play at SJP?

PT: Only the sun matters. Noble lost the toss five times running early in the season.

EDG: There’s been a lot of Trial by TV recently. What about real-time video refs, like rugby?

PT: I’m in favour of any technology which makes the game more fair, except if it slows things down too much. Goal line technology is an obvious idea. The fourth official can now only alert the ref to a small number of events, not for instance the direction of a throw in. The hand ball rule is too complex. I would favour “any hand contact is a foul”, but others say players would then flick the ball on to defenders’ hands in the area.

EDG: We beat Tranmere and then lost at Orient. Why don’t we play the same winning team?

PT: Well one was home, and one was away. I don’t always play the same team, and there was a gap of two weeks between the matches. A lot happens in two weeks.

EDG: Subs have been reduced from 7 to 5 per match.

PT: The Chairman’s Conference agreed this. Managers weren’t consulted, except Tis who was phoned by Julian. Tis was against but the Conference voted for it. When they Managers met later they were all against it, but it was driven by cost; lower appearance fees, hotel and travel bills.

So, finally, Tis got round to what happened at Sheffield Wednesday. Here’s what he said:

I’d been planning this for eight weeks. I only told Steve Perryman, and I arranged the training so they always needed an extra man – me. Only Ryan Harley spotted this.

My kit always goes to the match, and I am still a registered player, so no problem there. On the day I have to announce the side to the team, and we have to name seven subs.

The team always count the subs to see if they are in, so I had to name seven. I named Marcus Stewart as the seventh, and told him my plan. The other players got on Marcus’s case, saying he’d taken Chris Shephard’s opportunity, but he kept quiet.

Of course my name was on the official list, so I found the announcer and told him that the seventh sub couldn’t play, so not to announce him. I had my kit on under a big raincoat, and it was a hot day.

At 80 minutes we were 1–1, so I went to the changing room. My shorts hadn’t been used or washed all season and were far longer than everyone else’s and I was wearing new white boots.

I was alone in the dressing room, and you can hear the crowd. I stood and looked in the mirror and thought, “What the hell am I doing?” It’s a long walk from the changing room to the pitch; I arrived just as Troy scored his 70 yard goal, and the fans went mad.

“I told the fourth official I was coming on and he made me stand in front of Megson in the dugout. My brother took a photo of me standing there and Megson with his head in his hands.

So Tom Nicholls came off, and I went on. Harley shouted “Lombardo’s on” to the team! I had one touch and passed it to Harley as I knew he could handle it. I was dreaming of taking a direct free kick, but that never happened.

They had a corner and we all had to mark. I had Medine, the biggest player on the pitch. As the corner was taken I stood back on his toes. There was a dropped ball in our D. I told the Wednesday players I would give it back to them, but I kicked it up-field as far as I could.

The match ended; I am not sure if Megson enjoyed it, but the City fans seemed to, they were singing “We’re Exeter City, we’re taking the xxxx.”

Will I do it again? Probably not, as we only have five subs now.

EDG: Chris Shephard played a few matches, but none for a while.

PT: He played a dozen when the team was weak due to injury. He did OK and we have not given up on him, but he’s not a better player than Sercombe at present.

EDG: Was it cold at Oldham?

PT: Yes, very cold. There is an idiot behind the dug-out who constantly shouts at you. He was shouting, “Where did you get your cap?” at me. Finally John O’Flynn turned to him and said “At a cap shop”. The bloke shut up, muttering, “Well he (Tis) could have told me that”!

EDG: Do we need a loud talking player/leader?

PT: It is valuable to have someone who talks to the team constantly, but not at the expense of other skills. It has to be someone in the spine of the team, not on the wing.

EDG: tell us about your own playing career?

PT: Well the best part was five minutes against Sheffield Wednesday last year! From age 13 – 24 I was with Southampton. It was a good club, and good for me, but we had 7 managers in 7 years so my timing was wrong. I’d be dropped in favour of new faces at the start of each season, and only get into the team when they had faded. I had a lot of offers and went to Bristol City, probably the wrong choice. Then Athens which was a great experience, a summer season in Finland, and loans to Exeter (Under Fox, which was “interesting”), Huddersfield and Northampton. I got a back injury, and stopped playing when I was 26.