Former West Ham United and Northern Ireland defender Keith Rowland is relishing his first managerial role at Wingate and Finchley.

Rowland was handed the role last week, following Simon Lane’s departure from the Ryman Premier Division club.

After coaching roles with Aveley and Braintree Town, Rowland steps up to the top job for the first time in his career and is relishing the opportunity to show what he can do, as he revealed that the club’s obvious desire to appoint him played a big part in him accepting their offer.

He said “It was the First Team manager’s job that was the main thing I was looking for. The timing was right for me, and the fact that the club offered me the job without putting the role out there publicly (for interviews) showed how keen the chairman was in getting me.

I am very much looking forward to it, I took a conscious break in the summer for personal reasons, knowing something exciting would come along. I was looking to start afresh around the new year – and this opportunity came along at the perfect time. It’s a
arry keithdifferent challenge for me in my first role as a Manager, and I felt I’ve done my time now as an Assistant”

During his playing career, and in his time as a coach, Rowland worked alongside a number of experienced Premier League managers.

In his time at Upton Park he worked under Harry Redknapp(pictured right), as well as playing for Gerry Francis during his Queens Park Rangers career.

As a coach in non-league he worked under Alan Devonshire and he admitted that, although he has a number of people he can go to for advice, he is more likely to go his own way and “make my own decisions”.

“I did spend most of my career with two vastly experienced managers, Harry Redknapp and Gerry Francis. Alan (Devonshire) however is a good friend of mine and we get on really well and he was one of the first people I spoke to after taking the job. I am the sort of person that needs to go my own way though and I like to make my own decisions.

Firstly though I need to give all the players an opportunity to impress me and just take it from there”

Rowland’s reign with the club got underway with a home draw against Lewes, that result put an end to a three match losing streak.

And Rowland(pictured left) is focusing on getting his new side back into a winning routine.

“After the dip in form recently it is to get the club back to winning ways, and as quickly as possible whilst getting my way of playing the game across to the players. It’s then about lrowlandooking at the structure of the club with chairman, but I first have to look in the short term to win games which itself brings confidence, and helps the players and club believe in me quicker”

Despite their recent poor form the club still remain firmly in the Ryman Premier League play-off chase.

Although teams above them hold games in hand on Rowland’s side, they are only three points behind Leison, the occupants of the final play-off spot.

However, Rowland is under no pressure to make it into the top five and believes that adopting the same approach as he has in his previous roles may benefit his new players.

“It’s a tight league especially in the middle. As I found out on the weekend there’s not a massive difference between a lot of the clubs, so I need to get the lads going and see where it takes us. The club has put no pressure on me – just like in my time at Aveley and Braintree where we never had the specific ambition to do what we did – we just worked hard and achieved great success”

Interview: Mark Carruthers
Images: / Wingate and Finchley

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