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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Former Chelsea man Morris embracing the challenge of going it alone in management

After more than earning his stripes in both youth coaching and as an assistant manager, former Chelsea favourite Jody Morris was ready to go it alone as a manager in the men’s game well before the start of this year.

However, it was only in January that he finally found the right club with which to make the step up.

Appointed by League Two Swindon Town on transfer deadline day, Morris admitted after a commendable 1-1 draw at table-toppers Leyton Orient that his first few weeks have been testing.

“It’s been challenging,” he said. “There’s been plenty of ups and down’s but that’s football.

“We seem to be having a few more downs at the moment. We’ve got an injury room that is growing progressively, and people are off ill. We’ve just lost a defender to injury for the third game in a row. The only good thing is we lost him in the second half rather than the first as we have of late.

“I’m dealing with a few challenges but at the same time that is what it is all about.”

The result at Brisbane Road means that Morris and Swindon are now three unbeaten after the new manager’s reign began with three consecutive defeats.

The recent upturn in fortunes looked unlikely to continue in east London when Orient captain Omar Beckles headed home an early corner, but a resilient display from the depleted visitors earned a valuable point courtesy of a second-half Jacob Wakeling goal.

“The lads put their bodies on the line and put a shift in,” was the assessment of Morris. “Sometimes adversity breeds character and at the moment the group as a whole has faced a rubbish bit of luck with injuries and things going against us.

“I was pleased with the celebrations from the players on the bench who have not played many minutes at all. It’s going to be important in the run-in if we’re going to try and get some points because we’re going to need to stick together and dig deep like we did today.

“I’m not saying we played great, or we were unbelievable, there’s definitely things we can do better, but we have come away from a tough place to go to with a point. Under the circumstances, I’m proud of the players.”

Even though Morris felt his first month as a League Two manager had not been a great deal different than his previous coaching experience, his smart jacket and trousers combination on Saturday was something of an upgrade on the tracksuit he wore as Frank Lampard’s assistant at Chelsea.

“Sometimes I’ve had a tracky on and sometimes I’ve worn my own gear!” he said when quizzed on his sartorial choices. “But it’s not too dissimilar. I’m pretty open and demanding as an assistant and I’m pretty open and demanding as a manager as well.

“You may have to deal with a few more things on transfer deadline day, but the only real difference is that you make the final decision.”

His busy start to life at the County Ground has meant the 44-year-old has already built a rapport with local journalists, as evidenced by the way in which Morris was willing to not only answer questions but ask them back post-match.

However, he still has time for the club he made over 150 appearances for as a player and dedicated the best part of seven years to as a coach, and will be keeping an eye on Tuesday’s season-defining Champions League last-16 second leg tie against Borussia Dortmund.

“I’m still a Chelsea fan so I’ll be watching that to see how they get on,” said Morris.

“It’s a pretty pivotal time at the moment for the club. I’ll be watching and hoping that they get the right result.”


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