FC Halifax Town: “Me and Chris never thought we’d do one, never mind 100” - Wild on reaching his century of games in management
It probably wasn’t how Pete Wild imagined his chance would come.
Two days earlier, his boyhood club Oldham Athletic had been thrashed 6-0 at Carlisle United, on Boxing Day 2018, their third defeat in four games.
For the game at Port Vale on December 28, Wild and Chris Millington were handed the reins, and the impact was immediate.
After a 4-1 win at Vale Park, Oldham beat Notts County 2-0 at home on New Year’s Day.
Nine days after that win at Port Vale, Wild was on Match of the Day after masterminding an FA Cup giant-killing, having knocked Premier League Fulham out of the FA Cup at Craven Cottage.
Nearly two-and-a-half years later, Wild has completed 100 games in management, with Millington alongside him for every one of them.
“Me and Chris never thought we’d do one, never mind 100, so we’re really pleased to hit that milestone,” Wild said.
“It’s been a lot of learning, a lot of mistakes, a lot of hard work along the way.
“We’re really grateful to the people who have helped us along the way and put us in these positions and given us the opportunity to express ourselves.”
Wild has a win percentage of 44 per cent from his 100 matches.
When asked what he has learned in the job so far, he said: “I think tactically I’ve become better, man management has become better, how to conduct myself, how to manage people, how to manage games, how to behave. There’s so many facets to consider.
“Do I think I’m anywhere near being good at them? No, I think I’ve got a lot more to learn but what me and Chris have tried to do is go about our business in a positive manner that we’re open to new ideas, we’re open to learning and we’re also not naive enough to think that we know everything.
“We’re certainly not the cleverest men in the room and we don’t try to portray that, we just want to be honest, hard working and students of the game.”
Wild says he has gained belief and confidence along the way that he can carve out a career in the dugout.
“You never know until you’re put in that position,” he said. “People always have doubts but until you go out and road test yourself in those situations, you put your head above the parapet and have a go, I mean, I will never, ever slag a manager off, because I know how hard it is to be a manager.
“Anybody who puts their head above the parapet and has a go I have enormous respect for, whether they do it for one game or a thousand games.
“It’s easy to sit there in the pub and you think you’re the cleverest coach in the world and you know all the answers, but until you have a go at it, you realise you don’t.
“It is an industry that’s scrutinised at whatever level you are, it’s an industry where everybody thinks they know better and they’ve got a better opinion than yourself.
“I remember being sat there before the Port Vale game and going ‘oh my god, what’s going to happen today’.
“I remember that being the most stressful four days of my life because you’re desperate to do well, you think ‘oh my god, I’ve finally got a chance, don’t let yourself down’ and luckily enough, probably more luck than judgement, we survived and we’ve kept on surviving.”
The Town boss admits it was not a normal introduction to a new job back in December 2019 before game number one.
“It’s not let’s go have a coffee and talk about what you’re going to do in the first six months, it is literally seat of your pants, sink or swim, deal with that, what are you going to do, here’s the problem, how do you solve it?” he said.
“And by the way, when you’ve solved that problem, get up the next morning and solve the next one, and get up the next morning and solve the next one.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’re very privileged to be in the industry we’re in. I know people would give their right arm to be in our profession, and I love every minute that we’re in this profession.
“But the realities of the profession are that, if you don’t get it right quickly, you don’t stay in it for long, so you’ve got to have a lot of luck along the way and you’ve got to be brave and believe in yourself.
“You’ve got to be brave to do things that you’re not sure if they’re going to work, be brave that if things don’t work, accept they don’t work, move on and try something different. “One thing I think me and Chris are is brave in terms of how we set the team up, how we go about our business, how we’re prepared to try things, how we’re prepared to stand there and go ‘yeah, that didn’t work’, and we’re quite happy to say that if it doesn’t work.
“I think you need a lot of that within this profession.”
When asked how different a manager he is now, Wild said: “I’m more relaxed, because I feel like I know more, which means I can behave in a different way, which means that I feel like I’ve got more strategies up my sleeve to combat problems.
“I was talking about it with Darren Sarll (Yeovil manager) on Monday, about what we’d learned and who we are. I think there’s a saying that you can only class yourself as a manager if you do 250 games.
“Well I’m 150 short so I’m still very much the apprentice in this environment. I’m happy with that tag, it means you’ve got to keep working hard and keep reminding myself that I’ve nowhere near cracked it.”
Wild looks back with “immense pride” at the past 100 games, which he says have flown by.
“For both me and Chris, because I think it’s a team effort, there’s obviously more than me and Chris within our staff,” he said.
“I look back and think ‘I always wanted to be a football manager, I’ve had the opportunity to be a football manager and live the career I always wanted to have’ and long may it continue.
“I’m not daft enough to think this career goes on forever, but I’m going to ride the crest of a wave as long as I can, me and Chris, and see how long we can survive within the brutality of this industry. “It doesn’t seem two minutes since we were sat there at Port Vale, the chairman of Oldham’s calling me into his office and saying ‘right, you’re in charge for two games’.
“It seems like yesterday.”