What happens when your mate becomes your boss?
The shift in a relationship that will come from that transition must sometimes be quite difficult to navigate, with the changing power dynamics and the requirement to suddenly do what your pal is telling you.
Dave Edwards and Sam Ricketts seem to be dealing with it all quite well though: the pair have been close friends for years, but when Edwards returned to his boyhood club last year, it was to play for his old mate, now the manager at the New Meadow.
“Me and Sam were really good friends throughout our career,” Edwards told the Totally Football League Show. “We were roommates at Wolves and there’s obviously the Wales connection. It’s obviously different to a normal player-manager relationship: I wouldn’t be one to talk to a manager that often, unless I really needed to.
“Whereas with the gaffer we speak quite a lot: he leans on me at times just to gauge what the team are thinking, whether that’s tactical things, emotional stuff, all the things that go on at a football club, I act as a bit of a go-between.
“But I’m still very much a player: if he needs to drop me, or give me a rollicking, he does that as well, so that’s something I’ve had to learn to take, but it’s a real good relationship from my side, and one that benefits the team.”
Edwards made his senior debut for the Shrews some 17 years ago, but after a career that took him to the Premier League with Wolves and the European Championships with Wales, he signed for them again a little over a year ago.
“I absolutely love it,” Edwards said. “I’ve always been a Shrewsbury supporter: it was a dream come true to get into the team when I was younger and then go on to have the career for which I’m very, very grateful, the come full circle and come back here for the last few years of my career here, it’s extra special. It means that much more to me than when I first started out – I know it’s coming close to the end of my career, and I want to make the most of every moment: I wouldn’t want to do it at any other club.”
At the moment of course, he’s not doing much at the club: the coronavirus crisis has meant no training for the foreseeable future, but the coaching staff are making sure that everyone is staying on their toes during this layoff.
“My wife’s a personal trainer so a couple of years ago we converted our garage into a gym. I probably shouldn’t be saying that on air – our fitness coach will have proof now I could be doing more work.
“The WhatsApp groups are going off. The fitness coach put something in there, then all of a sudden he’s getting hammered by every single one of the players with excuses as to why they can’t do this or that.
“The club has come up with so many plans with how to keep ourselves fit and motivated, not just us but the staff as well. We all seem to have come together at this difficult point, and we have to make sure we’re as ready as possible for when we’re next in training, which for the forseeable future we can’t see that, but we’ve got to be ready for, I think they said April 30 is when the games could start again.
“There’s no rest time really. It would be a detriment to us if we had a few weeks off then tried to get back into fitness – that’s when injuries can happen, so we’ve got to keep ourselves ticking over. As mundane as it can be, we’ve got to go out every day on our run, or do stuff in and around the house. It’s important as a professional to be in good shape if we get the opportunity to complete the season.
“The staff have been great: we had a 5km time trial yesterday where all the staff and players got involved, all the times were recorded on an app called Strava, the winning times are posted to try and keep that competitive edge.
“Everyone knows that when we go back on the training ground the callipers will be out for our body fat and the scales will be out, so we can’t let ourselves go too much.”
You can listen to the latest edition of the Totally Football League Show here, or even better you can subscribe here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.