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Wick Academy player-boss Gary Manson mulls change to dual role at end of the season

Wick Academy player-manager Gary Manson
Wick Academy player-manager Gary Manson

Wick Academy player-manager Gary Manson says he will likely review his dual role come the end of the season.

Manson was appointed permanent manager at Harmsworth Park last year after a stint as interim boss, while continuing in a playing capacity.

He started games against Fort William, Brora Rangers and Bo’ness United and admits he has found it difficult to combine both being a player and manager.

The 37-year-old is Wick’s record appearance-holder, having clocked up more than 650 games during his two decades with the Caithness club.

Long-held ambition

Stepping into management had been a long-held ambition for Manson, but he may have to call on an extra pair of hands if he decides to continue his playing career.

He said: “It’s not been easy and it’s not something I would want to do long-term.

Gary Manson, right, in action for Wick Academy in 2019
Gary Manson, right, in action for Wick Academy in 2019

“If I’m playing, then I want to fully concentrate on the job and everything I’m needing to do on the pitch. If the ball is not in my area of the pitch, I’m finding myself looking at where we are as a team and if everyone is doing their job.

“Normally the subs go out twice a half to warm-up, but, if I’m on the bench, I’m finding I’m not able to do that and will go on not feeling sharp.

“I’m also quite hands-on and like to take most of training and, if I’m doing that, then I’m not taking part. If I need to keep myself ticking over then that’s difficult.

“Going forward I would quite like to do one or the other. I’ve always thought people who are player-managers can’t give 100 per cent to either.

“This is my first full season (as manager) and, if I feel I have got enough to offer on the playing side of things, I might look to get another coach in.

“It’s one to take a look at come the end of the season and see how we can develop.”

Frustrated by current form

Manson has been frustrated by Wick’s form to date, feeling they had drawn too many games and could have been higher up the Highland League table.

He added: “It’s funny how the fixture list has worked out this year.

“The first seven or eight games were against teams that, historically, have been in the bottom half of the table. Then we’ve had Fraserburgh, Formartine, Brora and Brechin.

“The fixture calendar will turn soon and hopefully we learn lessons from the first half (of the season).

“We need to cut out silly individual mistakes that are costing us goals.”

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