Carl Fletcher reflects on his time in football management

By Brent PilnickBBC South West Sport
Fletcher open to football return

When on New Year's Day, he received plaudits from around football for the way he fronted up to the news as he told the press of his demise.

As Fletcher broke down in front of the cameras following his side's loss at Bristol Rovers, it showed just how much managers sacrifice for their teams.

"For the time I was manager at Plymouth everything away from the club stopped - it was 24/7," Fletcher told BBC Late Kick Off in his first interview since leaving the club.

"I was at home with the wife and my kids and I was just a body really, I wasn't there, my brain and mind was elsewhere.

"I remember something John Deehan said to me when he came in to work with us. He said, 'No one will understand how a manager feels unless you've been a manager'."

Fletcher, 32, gave up more than most managers do during his time at Argyle after following

After joining as a player from Crystal Palace, the former Wales and West Ham midfielder was swiftly made captain, and then the club went into administration.

At one point unless they and other club staff were given some sort of payment after weeks with no money.

It was that experience which poured out during the interview at the Memorial Ground on that January afternoon as he was relieved of his duties as manager.

"The situation I'd been in with Plymouth over four years, going through administration and stuff, when you speak to people it's like a family.

"The kit man, chefs and things, we'd all been through so much together, the lowest of the lows really.

"Not getting paid for such a long period [meant] it brought everyone closer and the emotion of it got a bit better than me in that interview."

And Fletcher also ended his playing career to take charge of Argyle.

He played 449 games over 15 years, starting as a youth team player at Bournemouth and including the 2006 FA Cup final with West Ham.

But having won 36 caps for Wales, his final match as a player was rather less glamorous - a crushing in November 2011.

At that point Fletcher hung up his boots and decided to concentrate solely on leading his team, who were adrift at the foot of League Two and in danger of going out of the Football League.

"I spoke to a few people about it and some people said I should keep playing and some people didn't.

"For me to be able to do the job properly as manager I couldn't play as well. I felt I couldn't do both things well.

"I put all of my eggs in one basket and stopped playing to try and focus all my efforts on being manager."

Fletcher won 17 of his 70 games in charge of Argyle and saved them from the drop last season.

But with the club at the foot of the Football League again this year, the club decided to make a change and

As it stands, the switch has not had the desired effect. Argyle are again bottom of the table, and, just a few seasons since plying their trade in the Championship, could soon be dropping into non-league.

But despite all the stress and heartbreak, Fletcher says he has not ruled out a return to the game he so clearly loves.

"You never say never, it is tough, the lows definitely outnumber the highs.

"You get a good win or a good performance, you enjoy it for five or 10 minutes, then you're onto the next game.

"I love the coaching and being there with the lads and football environment, because that's what I've done all my life."

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