Alfreton top scorer Craig Westcarr states players ‘were not aware’ long-serving manager Nicky Law was leaving but is happy with the ‘safe choice’ of new appointment Russ O’Neill – who claims he wants the job.
Westcarr was speaking after the 0-0 draw with Brackley Town at the Impact Arena a week after the departure of Nicky Law. Westcarr said: “‘It was strange to see that he was going, because no one was aware of what was going on. We have to get on with it.”
Alfreton are in the midst of a relegation battle in the Vanarama National League North and Westcarr’s 12 goals this season in the league have proved vital.
The forward continued: “I don’t know what’s going on. At the minute it’s about getting results and getting safe first, this doesn’t change anything for us.”
Any team or player would find it hard to transition from losing such a stalwart at the helm. Nicky Law would have been in charge at Alfreton for 10 years in the coming March and is the most successful manager in the club’s 58-year history. The news broke unexpectedly on the 25th January that he would be leaving to take a role at Burnley as Head of National Recruitment for the under 17-23s.
Nicky Law’s replacement has been named as long-term assistant manager Russ O’Neill. On the appointment Westcarr said: “The chairman could have probably got someone else but it is a safe choice. Russ knows the players inside out, he knows what it takes to get us out of the situation that we’re in.”
O’Neill was also speaking after the Brackley game. He said on Law’s departure: “I know he got approached from somebody to do a job. One day he just said ‘it’s come and I think it’s a chance that I can’t turn down’ but I fully understand his decision.”
When asked whether he found it hard to see Law go the new Alfreton manager said: “His heart is in the right place and I will miss it. It was tough to see him go but at the end of the day he has got to do what is best for him and what’s best for his family and we accept that and move on.” O’Neill continued: “We’re still good friends and we always will be.”
The exact terms of Russ O’Neill’s contract are uncertain, with many Reds fans uncertain whether O’Neill will stay beyond this season. The new boss stated: “They (the board) haven’t given me a timescale, he (the chairman) has said to just keep doing what you’re doing, get the results and we will chat later on.”
On whether O’Neill wants the job moving forward, he said: “Yes of course. My heart is 100% behind Alfreton and it always will be and I’ll stay as long as I’ve got the opportunity to. I’d love the opportunity to step up. I’ve never wanted to just be a yes man and somebody who is just behind somebody.” O’Neill continued: “In regards to the football side there is a lot (Nicky Law leaving) changed but I’ve been used to it all anyway.”
Nicky Law said on leaving the Reds: “It’s been an extremely tough decision for me. This club is a part of me and I will never forget everything I’ve achieved.”