FC Halifax Town: Notts County spell was a learning experience, says Fullarton

New, FC Halifax Town boss Jamie Fullarton at the Shay
New, FC Halifax Town boss Jamie Fullarton at the Shay

New Town boss Jamie Fullarton says his spell at Notts County has left him in no doubt he can cope with whatever management throws at him.

The former Crystal Palace, St Mirren and Brentford midfielder was appointed as manager at Meadow Lane on January 10, 2016 on a three-and-a-half year contract, but left on March 19 with a record of three wins, one draw and eight defeats in 12 games.

Fullarton took charge during a tumultuous time at County, which saw owner Ray Trew put the club up for sale and step down as chairman that February.

Fullarton, one of seven permanent managers at County in the last five years, says he learned a lot during his time there, and is all the stronger for it.

“You’ve got to be selective in my position because if it’s not a genuine opportunity to be successful then the egg-timer starts as soon as you get into the job,” he said.

“Over a period of time you’re looking for the team to reflect what you are as a person. Over time I’m looking to demonstrate that.

“Was Notts County a great experience? I wouldn’t call it great. I’d say it was a learning experience.

“In my playing career I was limited but resilient. At least I thought I was.

“But the Notts County experience was a test of my resilience, so not only do I think I’m resilient, I know I’m resilient.

“That plays a part in the way forward because players can be assured about the direction we’re going and that I can lead them.

“Your resilience is a key ingredient, so moving forward I see that experience at Notts County having tested my resilience and there is no doubt I have the coping strategies that, whatever’s thrown at us, to have an answer to help players make the right decision to have the performance to get the results.”

“There were a lot of mitigating circumstances,” Fullarton added on his brief spell at Notts County.

“I look for reasons not excuses and we could talk all day about how tough it is at some clubs.

“The basic facts at Notts County, under those really difficult circumstances, was that I didn’t win enough games.

“Whatever way you look at it, whatever the circumstances, which have made me stronger, ultimately if you win enough games you don’t lose your job, and if you don’t, then you do.”

Asked if he felt he was given a fair amount of time at County, Fullarton said:

“Define fair. Common sense would tell you when you look at any business when you’re managing change, the first 90 days involves appraisal, assess, implement certain aspects and then kick on.

“If that’s a general rule of thumb, then anything under 90 days suggests it’s not (enough time).

“But I’m not going to be critical of it because the circumstances at every club is different and that dictates the level of success that’s possible over a period of time.

“As a manager, the characteristics you form and how you are as a person influence your behaviour.

“Has it made me a better coach? No, but it’s helped me develop coping strategies under very difficult circumstances.

“I think it’s made me more equipped to provide players with an environment that enables them to go on to perform and win games.”

Fullarton’s appointment was greeted with scepticism from some Halifax supporters, to which the Scot responded: “Someone that’s experienced in the league or who might have had seven, eight, nine jobs means they’ve also been sacked seven, eight, nine times.

“People might say I’ve only had one job and only lasted a certain amount of time, but that means I’ve only been sacked once.

“It’s about perception and how you interpret it. But time will tell, and all you can do is ask for people to be supportive of the team.

“It’s important at a club like Halifax with the stadium we have that the fans get right behind the players.

“When I’ve seen Halifax over the last four or five seasons the fans have been supportive of the players. That’s all I would ever ask fans to be.

“Whatever their opinion of me or anyone else at the club, maintain that support for the players.”

When asked if he was the right man for the job at Town, he said: “I think that’s a question for the club. I prefer to demonstrate that over time by having a team reflect what I am by how they play and their personality and character.

“Can I add value to the project and the vision? Yeah. Can I provide a structure for the players to play from to achieve the short-term goal of winning enough games to stay in the division? Yes.”

Fullarton was keen to avoid making any false promises about what he could achieve at The Shay.

“What managers in this situation are guilty of is insulting the club’s fans by making all sorts of claims of where you’re going to be, and I don’t want to do that,” he said.

“I’m big on being as transparent and honest as I can.

“For every individual fan success is defined differently. But I don’t want to be detract from what the focus is.

“I want the club to be galvanised in winning enough games in the next 12 to maintain our National League status.”

Town chairman this week reiterated that reaching the Football League remains the club’s long-term ambition.

When asked whether he felt Halifax could survive and prosper in the National League as a part-time club, Fullarton said: “Even last year part-time teams finished in the play-off places.

“Halifax have already shown that with the right mix of players and personalities they can reach the play-offs.

“I think there’s a misinterpretation of what full-time and part-time is.

“We are looking to progress as a club, that’s constantly evolving.

“The fifth tier is almost a full-time league but I think there’s a perception that if you’re not full-time you can’t be successful, which I don’t agree with.

“At the moment it’s about the next 12 games and staying in the league, and then we can look at moving forward.”

Fullarton said he would look to address who will make up his backroom team over the next “seven to 10 days.

“When you’re building a team you have to complement and supplement key skills and personalities,” he said.

“I have to ascertain what people’s skill sets are, their personalities and how they complement each other. Like a jigsaw.

“I think it’s important that I find out what everybody provides our team that performs on a Saturday and then complement and supplement it with the right character and skill set that adds value to it.

“If we’ve got someone who mixes well with the players by having a laugh and joke with them, would you bring in another one? No you wouldn’t.

“So we’re in that process of working out what we need to give the best support to the players to be able to perform.”

And on the possibility of more new signings being made in the wake of striker Mike Fondop-Talom’s arrival on loan from Guiseley this week, Fullarton added: “We’re always pro-active because competition for places is important, so we’re very pro-active in looking to add to the squad.

“It’s got to be the right type coming into the group as well as add something we don’t have, or create that competition to get that extra 10-15 per cent out of the players already there.

“The players will be given the opportunity to show what they are whilst we still look to add to the squad to make us better as we move forward.”

Read more from Fullarton in Friday’s Halifax Courier.