Aidy Boothroyd’s unorthodox journey may just lead him to the England job one day
Aidy Boothroyd: national treasure, future England manager.
Okay, so it might be a tad premature to start throwing such accolades about, perhaps even a little far-fetched, but if someone put a gun to my head right now and asked me to name one man who will be managing at the top level 20 years from now, I’d have to plump for Boothroyd. He’s a safe bet in my eyes.
According to some, Boothroyd is a spent force. A flash in the pan. A fad even. Here today, gone tomorrow. He had some new ideas that made him fashionable for a short while, enjoyed some early success with Watford, and that was that. Now his fall from grace has taken him to the depths of League Two where he will become just another journeyman on the managerial merry-go-round.
That’s not entirely wrong, of course. Boothroyd is a journeyman. He’s only 41 and he has already managed four different clubs. But he’s a journeyman by choice. He loves his profession and he understands the nature of the beast. His thirst for the knowledge to make him a better manager is unquenchable, so he’s quite prepared to roll with the punches rather than sit around waiting.
For him, it’s better to learn on the job rather than twiddling your thumbs, applying only to clubs of a certain stature, and if that means dropping down two divisions from your last post, so be it. In fact, part of me believes Boothroyd took the Northampton job last year because it was in the basement – the only one of the four divisions in which he hadn’t managed. He probably viewed it as an opportunity to broaden his horizons.
And already, it’s clear to see that Boothroyd is made of the right stuff when it comes to longevity in such a volatile profession. He isn’t feeling sorry himself, there’s no insecurity about his current standing in the overall scheme of things. He appears to be loving every minute of life at Sixfields and his appetite for the job is winning him a lot of respect from his peers at that level.
Opposition managers are talking about ‘Aidy’ with great affection. His knowledge of their team and their players goes beyond what you’d normally come to expect from anyone who has been higher. By leaving no stone unturned in his pursuit of success for the Cobblers, he’s paying his counterparts the ultimate compliment and they are proud to be associated with him.
Boothroyd’s actions over the past 12 months are rooted in high self-esteem. He has an unshakeable self-belief. He knows he’s going to be back managing in the Premier League one day, so why worry about how quickly it’s going to happen? Why not just savour the experiences to be had along the way and enjoy the ride?
This, of course, is great news for Northampton. A club that has made so many wrong-turns when appointing managers down the years suddenly has a gaffer who, right now, probably belongs in the Championship. And they should take a leaf out of Boothroyd’s book and just enjoy it while it lasts.
Boothroyd might have struggled at Coventry but Cobblers fans shouldn’t be in any doubt that he will walk out when the right challenge presents itself again at that sort of level. Luckily for them, the Coventry experience might just prompt him to be a little more choosy next time around, buying them more time to progress under his guidance.
It’s an unorthodox career path, but it’s a career that’s heading in the right direction. When he started out at Watford seven years ago, Boothroyd had an edge. In many ways, he was a manager ahead of his time, thinking about the game in ways that are now considered commonplace.
The rest of the Championship has caught up, and others besides. Intellectual sophistication has trickled down into the lower leagues, analytics are being applied at all levels and Boothroyd isn’t the only bright spark in the basement. Therefore, he might never have that edge again, but that doesn’t mean best days aren’t still ahead of him.Aidy Boothroyd, football, Northampton, Premier League, Watford
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