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The journey of a young manager.


Aug 11, 2011
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“So tonight we’re going to discuss something quite remarkable. We’re doing an in depth interview with him. He’s been quite a story in the lower leagues, but hasn’t really been picked up by the nation until now. Let’s welcome our special guest, please welcome Ian Lim to Football Focus”

“Thanks for having me, it’s a pleasure to be here Dan”

“So, today we’re here to discuss your incredible progress as a manager. You’re still a very young manager, only 23? Yet you managed to guide Bristol Rovers to two promotions in the past two years. You were unemployed before you got signed on as the Bristol Rovers manager. Tell me how did you even get the job as the Bristol Rover managers?”

“I just finished the National Level A Course in September, was actually looking for a coaching role at one of the bigger clubs to continue my learning and get more experience when I got a call from a friend saying Bristol Rovers were accepting applicants for their manager role. I thought why not give it a shot? Didn’t have anything to lose and here I am today”

“Let’s expand more on your first season. Bristol Rovers were sitting on 17[SUP]th[/SUP] when you took over. What was the expectations for the club? What was it like getting so much responsibility at such a young age? The chairman has put a lot of faith in you in managing such a big club?”

“To be honest, I didn’t even think the interview went that well. I outline the way I like playing football, how I wanted to sign young players for the future and thought the club was too big for the conference. Luckily the chairman agreed with me”

“It sounds like you have a great relationship with the chairman. Could you expand on your start as a manger?”

“Stephen and I have a great friendship, it has definitely helped with my experience with this great club. Well I took over at the end of September, there were already a few players brought on loan by the previous manager which were for the season and they turned out to be quite key in my promotion. In terms of results, in my first 10 game we were unbeaten, winning 7 of them.
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It was so important to have that start. That really set the tone for the rest of the season. The lads really responded well to having such a young manager, having faith in me and trusting my judgement. I really couldn’t ask for a better group of players to start off my managerial career.

“It really was an amazing start for you. Considering the previous manager was sacked just after 9 games into the season. Were you worried that the chairman would have given you the sack without a good start?”

“I think those were under different circumstances. I had a contract till the end of the season and was confident I would see it out. After those 10 games, I believe we caught up to the rest of the teams hanging around the playoff spots. The club was only recently relegated into the conference the previous season, so it was only fair to expect us to go back up on the first try”
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“I see. Looking at this, showed you made 8 additional signings. What was your reasons behind all of this? Adding to what already was a big squad”

“Well Dan, I felt with those were necessary signings in helping the club to promotion and hopefully the future of the club. I felt confident after the start we had, we would be back in League Two and I wanted a squad that was ready for the challenge.”

“In the end, you were right. Bristol Rovers went on to go on a crazy run of form only losing 7 league games for the rest of the season. Allowing you to end the season in 2[SUP]nd[/SUP]. It must have been quite the experience. With the league being as tight as it looked.”
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“I’ll tell you what Dan, you’re not wrong. We only manage to secure a play-off position in the second last game of the season. The whole league was very tight throughout the season and we were quite lucky to gain 2[SUP]nd[/SUP].”

“What was it like walking out to Wembley for the Playoff Final? You’re only eight months into your managerial career, and you walk out on that magnificent pitch. Thirty eight thousand fans in the stands, hoping their team to move on to League 2.”

“I couldn’t believe how far I had gone. To think I was considering coaching for a club but there I was leading out a team at Wembley. Honestly I couldn’t believe it, I’m just grateful the boys played well in the final and got us promoted. It’s still to date the only time I have managed at Wembley and will be one of the most unforgettable moments of my life."

“That’s wonderful, now don’t go anywhere when we come back we’ll discuss the madness of the second season for our young manager and what seems to be the beginning of a fairy-tale.”


Aug 11, 2011
So after reading so many great stories in the forum thought I would start my own. I have attempted to do this before and it went fairly well in my opinion before i dropped off. I'm going to be playing catch up with my save, so will try to incorporate some new ideas for everyone to catch up with my story. Going to incorporate many different views and ideas into this. Plenty of inspirations from the whole forum. When I'm up to speed, you'll definitely see a different layout. Please like and respond, it'll be nice to hear your feedback.


Jun 3, 2010
Very nice start mate. Unbelievable run to go from 17th to 2nd!

Liking the "interview" format, can't wait to hear about next year. :)


Aug 11, 2011
“Welcome back, we’re here with Bristol Rovers manager Ian Lim. We just been discussing his first season as a manager. After getting Bristol promoted on the first try, they were back in league two. So Ian, what was your thoughts for your campaign back in league two?”

“Well there were already talks from local newspapers saying we would be one of the favourite to go back down to the conference. With the squad we had I definitely thought we had to shake things up for the league if we wanted to surprise people. I was under no illusion how hard the step up would be, so I spent my summer looking over a hundred players. Either through scouting or having them at the training grounds for trials.”

“Sorry did you say over a hundred?”

“Yup, we looked up all the players that were released from the premiership, championship and lots more. It was a lot of work.”

“I must say that’s quite the effort.”

“I had to ensure my team had the best players out there, to ensure we were competitive in the league. It was definitely worth the trouble as you can tell from our results”

“So how many players did you end up signing?”

“Well I recruited 21 players in the summer after all the trials. All the scouting and trials really paid out helping us rebuild our squad. 19 players had to be let go regrettably but it’s what you have to do as a manager. Few of those that were let go were key in our promotion but we had found much better replacement throughout the trials.”

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“After having such a massive clear out of player it must have affected squad morale. As you said earlier some of these player were key player for the team now your team were full of new players who had to again blend together. How did you manage to do that?”

“It definitely took some time for the squad to blend. I was questioned by fans, coaches and other managers if that was the right thing to do. I felt that it was the right thing to do and it would have paid out. And it did.”

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“Yes, let’s move on to your team’s performance. You didn’t start of the season that well. Having been knocked out of both the FA Cup, Capital One Cup and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the first round. Why do you think this is?”

“As mention before, having recruited 21 players who were all for the first team. It was hard to maintain that nucleus of the team that brought us up. We almost had a completely different first eleven. This obviously took some time for us to gel as a team.

Once the team got going and we found some form, only then was I convinced we could have done something special.”

“Which is what you end up doing, walk me through the second half of the season.”

“Being out of all the cups gave us a focus, we only had the league to worry about. So players were consistently at the training ground. Not having to have to worry about travelling, we did some work in terms of set pieces that really changed our season. From the 16[SUP]th[/SUP] of January till the 1[SUP]st[/SUP] of March we won all our games, 8 leagues games on the bounce. We got away with it towards the end where we got decisions given to us, teams would dominate the possession but we were clinical. I really believe that sprung the belief in the team that we could go on and get promoted in the second year running.”
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“That you very much did, you went onto clinch 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] place. This meant back to back promotion for Bristol Rovers! I mean not a lot of managers can say that yet alone a young manager with relatively no experience.”

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“It’s really all down to the players, I mean sure working on set pieces and tactics did help us win games. If the player didn’t embrace me as a manager, we would have gotten nowhere so a lot of the credit has to go to the players.”


Aug 11, 2011
“This brings us to this season. Not as many signings as last season?”

“Hahaha no, not this time. Got 11 players on trials, didn’t go through as many players on trials. We mainly targeted known scouted players whose contracts were running out. This was all done throughout the previous season, in hopes of improving the team and squad. We tried selling a couple of players off but that didn’t pan out for us, so they’re off on loan.”

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“However it saw several key staff members leaving the club and new ones coming in. What was the thinking behind this?”

“Well I felt with the change in league, I had to recruit new coaches to implement the style of football I wanted to be played in the club. The staff that did leave, did a great job and I will forever be grateful to them for what they done for me in my first two years of management. It was just a new change and with change brings new people. Also being in League One, the Board approved more staff who shared the same vision as me. This will continue to improve the team.

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“Still a rather big transition for this club yet again, do you not feel the players and staff will always be worried they’ll be replaced season after season?”

“With back to back promotion, the players never got to settle into the league. Not that I’m complaining, but it meant moving on players that could have been progressed really well for the club and themselves but weren’t given the time. It’s one of my biggest problems, telling a player I have to move him on despite me assuring he has a future with the club before he signed on.

I still have a core of players who have been with me since day 1. The likes of James Alabi, Johnny Gorman and Will Beesley are still in the first 16 for my squad. This number will continue to increase as we move forward as a club. In regards to my staffing team, they’re very unlikely to change anytime soon.”

“Looking at this season, you had a much more difficult start that you ever had as a manager. Media predicting your team to finish in relegation. Looking at the first seven games of the season, they seemed spot on; you only manage 2 wins and 5 losses. Was this reality catching up to your squad? Back to back promotion is no easy feat, were you feeling the pressure? ”

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“I can’t say there wasn’t any pressure on me. I mean I was so focused on the team the past two seasons, I forgot to start on more coaching qualifications to improve myself. Stephen the chairman had to bring it up over a meeting, wondering why I wasn’t taking more courses which I identified early on with him that’s what I wanted to do.

I got caught up with the moment and looked like my players did as well. We had to regroup, fortunately for us we had a 10 day break before our next game, we had to group together and get our heads on straight. I told the players we have to show everyone we belong here. We belong in this league and we’re not going straight back down.”

View attachment 318151“Sounds like it was a very important meeting because what followed next was quite astonishing. For the next 4 months, you suffered less defeats than you did in the first 7 games.”

“We changed up the way we played, we couldn’t play as fluid as we used to in the past two seasons. We would be punished if we carried on the way we were playing. The lads as usual were great and willing to adapt. This resorted in a run of form for us and as you know once we get in red hot form, we’re hard to stop.”

“Quite a few pundits and managers alike are curious, you seemed to be speaking about a lot of tactics. The way you had to adapt and change throughout the season. Do you see yourself matching anyone philosophies?

“I try to implement my own and see what fits the teams. I don’t think you can have only one set way of playing football, it has to match the players you have and the manager you are.”

“Now this brought some attention to your team. With your team playing really very well, you get Arsenal at home in the FA cup. Your heart must have dropped when you saw you got Arsenal for the 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] round?”

“To be honest, I thought I had a bit of a curse. Having been knocked out very early in all cup competitions my whole career. Finally making it to the 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] round of the FA cup, I get drawn one of the biggest football teams in the world.”

View attachment 318150“Yet, this is one of the reasons you’re on our show today. Bristol Rovers having gone through back to back promotion in League One faced off with the mighty gunners. You managed to pull off one of the biggest cup upset in FA Cup history, beating Arsenal 2 – 1. I can see from your smile that you’re still enjoying the moment”

“In my defence it’s only been 4 days. Beating one of the best teams in the world on your home ground is a feeling, a few can say they experience. The lads played really well, Arsenal didn’t field a weak team. In the starting eleven they had the likes of chambers, Papadopoulos and Alexis Sanchez. Ramsey, Susaeta and De Vrif were all brought on. We still managed to hang on for the win”

“I have to say the media went crazy. Twitter, newspapers, podcasts, radio and well us TV all wanted to know your story. Who was this young manager who just managed to beat Arsenal? What was your reaction to this all?”

“I definitely felt quite embarrassed. The players did the work out there, they deserve to get all the credit.”

“It still takes a manager to get those players to play as well as they did. Nowadays with managers being sacked right, left and centre. Has there been a few clubs asking for you? It’s been reported that your contract runs until the end of the season. ”

“In all honestly I have rejected at least 10 job interviews for clubs from Italy, Spain, France and some teams in the same division. I want to repay the faith that was put into me by the chairman. He offered me a job when all I had was some qualifications with no experiences. I signed the 2 year contract at the back end of my first season and intend to see it out.

With the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to sign another 2 year extension with the club. However that’s between me and the chairman, right now I want to focus on our season. At the end of the campaign we’ll sit down and have a chat.”

“This run of form brought you to the top of the league. Can you believe it? I mean 2 years and 4 months ago you were only just starting off in the conference taking on your first game. Here you are sitting on top of League One, having just beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup with York your next opponent, how far can your team go? Will it be 3 promotions in a row? Not sure that has ever been done.”

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“In terms of the FA Cup, York is a very good team who we faced last season so it won’t be an easy game by any means. We want to go as far as we can in the FA cup, so we’ll see how things go. The team has played really well, and got their rewards. I sometimes have to pinch myself to think where I was a few years ago. We worked hard to be where we are as a team. We will continue to work as hard as we have and come end of the season who knows? We could be the first team to get promoted 3 seasons in a row. ”

“Thank you for being with us Ian. Good luck for the rest of the season, I’m sure you’ll be back on this show in the future.”

“Thanks Dan.”

“Now we’ll be discussing the Manchester Derby where we saw United put five past city….”