GETTING TO KNOW ... PAUL RAYNOR
The man behind Steve Evans - the Paul Raynor interview Part One
by JOHN LOMAS, 05 December 2016
There may never be another Clough and Taylor, but the partnership of Steve Evans and Paul Raynor has few if any equals in the lower divisions. The pair have achieved eight promotions in 12 years and, like Clough and Taylor, while Clough always used to be the one in the spotlight, Stags assistant boss Raynor is happy to stay in the background like Taylor but produce work that is vital to the success of manager Steve Evans. Paul Raynor while at Leeds United. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe So it is fitting that Raynor began his footballing career under the watchful eye of Clough at Nottingham Forest “I was born in Nottingham and my dad used to play for Forest, so I was brought up in the football life,” he said.
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“I was then fortunate enough to get the call to go and join Nottingham Forest as a youngster. “Initially I played some games for Notts County, then I got ‘poached’, so to speak, by Forest at 14. Then it was apprenticeship at 16 and I was very fortunate that I got a chance to play under Brian Clough. “He gave me an opportunity to play my first game. I didn’t play many games but the fact that he gave me that opportunity was fantastic.” Working for Clough inspired both fear and adulation from his players. “It was never a dull moment under Clough,” said Raynor “You never knew from one minute to the next how he’d react, what he would do and whether he was in a good mood or a bad mood. “He certainly kept everyone on their toes. But he was a fantastic manager. He was very simple in his philosophy in terms of how he wanted things done. “There were no grey areas of what he wanted from you on the pitch. He was very disciplined, but very eccentric as well. “You didn’t know what to expect at times. Sometimes you’d think you’d done poorly and sometimes you’d think you’d done well and probably got told the opposite. It was a fantastic learning curve for me.” Like other Forest players under Clough, his debut came as a shock. Raynor said: “The highlight of my Forest career was making my debut. I was carrying the skips in away at Southampton. “I thought I was going to be the odd one out as it was only the second time I’d been with the squad and he told me to put the skip down and threw me a No.9 shirt and that was how I got told I was playing. “Unfortunately we lost the game, but it was a fantastic experience.” Playing for Clough certainly stood him in good stead for the succession of clubs he went on to play for. “Everyone lucky enough to play under Brian Clough, people know if he selected you to play in the first team in the Premier League, as it is now, then obviously there’s something about you,” said Raynor. “Teams after that looked at my grounding and where I came from and that Brian Clough had trusted me enough to put me in the team, then these people thought I had got a bit about me and could play a bit. It was a great grounding and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.” Now Evans and Raynor try to employ a similar, simple footballing philosophy to Clough and Taylor. “They probably talk about it as old school, that’s the way people describe me now. We try to keep things very simple, no grey areas,” said Raynor “People can complicate football with formations and systems - and there is a place for that as people need to know what jobs they need to in areas of the pitch. But we try to keep it simple as Clough did. “Partnership-wise, Clough had his strengths and Peter Taylor could always spot a player. “The miles he did going up and down the country finding players that suited the manager’s style and what he wanted from a player, seemed to work for them.” Like Clough and Taylor, Evans and Raynor do have their fall-outs along the way. “It’s not all sweetness and light - there is plenty of debate,” he smiled. “The gaffer is really opinionated and knows what he wants. But I don’t always say yes and agree. “I will fight my corner if I believe it’s right and we bounce things off each other. Sometimes he will listen to me and sometimes he won’t. But it seems to work. “I love being on the coaching field, that’s where I think I am probably best suited. I love getting out working with the guys and Steve gives me pretty much a free rein in doing what he wants me to do out there. “We have been very successful with something like eight promotions in 12 years and great cup runs as well. It’s been fantastic with some great times and some great clubs and now hopefully we can replicate that with Mansfield.” After so many years as a No.2, Raynor is still happy to not be the one in the hot seat. “I am quite happy to do what I do,” he said. “I have had the odd opportunity here and there, but this has been so successful, why change it? “We have a good vibe going on, a good partnership, and if it’s not broken you don’t need to fix it. “I enjoy stepping away and letting the gaffer do all the media work. “He loves all that and is very good at it and the PR side of it too. “There is a good chemistry here, we both have strengths and putting them together we seem very successful.” He added: “The gaffer here is the face and the PR and I know exactly what he wants from the players on the training field where I replicate that. “You’ve seen us on the touchline. We kick every ball, we head every ball, we make every tackle, we galvanise the players and we try to galvanise the crowd. “We’re not everybody’s cup of tea - but it seems to work.”
IN PART TWO NEXT WEEK: Paul Raynor on losing his place at Preston to David Beckham, on playing for ex-Stags Keith Alexander at Ilkeston, on his first ever meeting with an angry Steve Evans and also talking about his hopes for Mansfield Town.
The man behind Steve Evans - the Paul Raynor interview Part Two
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
The final part of our two-part interview with the man behind Steve Evans
In a 25-year playing career, new Mansfield Town assistant boss Paul Raynor experienced many ups and downs.
But, while being the skipper at Preston North End, he can vividly remember his first look at up-and-coming starlet David Beckham as he found himself having to make way for the loanee’s debut. Disgruntled at that moment, Raynor said he soon saw what all the fuss was about.
“It would probably take me 10 minutes to describe all my clubs from start to finish, there was probably 15 along the way including non-League,” he said.
“I had an enjoyable period at Preston, quite a successful period, and we had this young whippersnapper come from Manchester United. Mansfield Town assistant manager, Paul Raynor.
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“I hadn’t really heard of him and he only stayed a month. But he was fantastic. It just shows you the impact he made in that month. Afterwards Preston tried to buy him for about half a million, but Manchester United were never going to let him go.
“The unfortunate thing for me was when he made his League debut for Preston, I was the one that was substituted.
“I was captain, took all the free kicks, took all the throw-ins, took all the corners and then this young lad from Manchester United came and took over my mantle, so I wasn’t overjoyed at that point.
“But when you saw the ability he had got it was self-evident he was going to be very successful.
“What he did actually achieve was unbelievable. He was a nice guy - a real gentlemen. He came back and saw us throughout that season and kept in touch with a few of the guys.”
After starting his coaching at Sheffield United, Raynor has forged a great career as No.2 to Steve Evans, arriving at Mansfield last month. But as a player he is well travelled, even enjoying a taste of a very different Orient, spending 1997 in the emerging Chinese Jia-A League playing for Guangdong Hongyuan. “I have been fortunate enough to travel the world playing and coaching - and it’s brought me to Mansfield in the end,” he said.
“I had a period over in the Premier League in China, which was a real experience - very different but enjoyable.
“It was 15 years ago now and they were trying to expand the game - that was probably the start of it over there and I was fortunate enough to play for a team in Canton and you could tell there were signs they were getting serious.
“Now there is a lot of money and big name players and I could see the sprouts of that. The fans are so enthusiastic out there.
“The problem was the players were so enthusiastic they had no ideas of tactics whatsoever. There were games I was playing centre forward and the left back would suddenly run by me and I wondered what he was actually doing up there!
“Now they have brought in a lot of foreign coaches and it’s flying over there.”
Locally, Raynor also enjoyed a season at Ilkeston Town with the late and much missed ex-Stags assistant boss Keith Alexander in 1999/2000.
“I had a year with Keith Alexander, which was fantastic,” said Raynor
“What a real character Keith was - so laid back it was incredible.
“He was a real nice guy and could certainly motivate. You wanted to play for him. He always had us playing with a real smile on our face.
“I had a period at Ilkeston, Boston, King’s Lynn, Gainsborough, you name it. I just loved playing and I tried to play until my legs dropped off.
“The gaffer kept picking me down at Crawley until I was about 43. He kept telling me to go on the bench.
“It was disappointing at times as there were lads far fitter than me that could have gone on there. Now I even struggle to join in with training. But I played as long as I possibly could.”
Raynor can remember the day he first met Evans, the man he was destined to achieve so much with as a duo. But that first meeting was less than cordial! “It was playing for Ilkeston against Boston,” he said.
“I think Boston were flying high at the top of the league about 10 points clear and came to us on a Bank Holiday Monday.
“I was aware they had a good team and the gaffer had got them playing very well. They came to us and we weren’t bad. We had some experienced players with Ian Helliwell, Devon White and myself.
“I think we managed to grind out a 1-0 victory and I can remember the gaffer saying a few choice words to me when I committed the odd foul here and there and was kicking his star players. We had a bit of banter.
“Then he sold his midfield player to Bolton, a lad that went on to have a really good career - David Norris. He then decided I was going to be his replacement. David at the time was about 19 and he replaced him with a 36-year-old!”
As a pair, Evans and Raynor have few, if any, equals in the lower leagues and Raynor said: “I think our record stand up there with everybody at this level and probably even in the Championship.
“People see where Rotherham United are now. That proves how difficult it is with their resources to keep the likes of Rotherham in the Championship. To do that the season we were in there with them was a fantastic achievement.
“Also we went to Elland Road and Leeds United with all the problems they were having off the pitch with protests against the owner - I think the team was 18th when we took over and hadn’t won at home for eight months - and we turned that around. There was a real feelgood factor when we left.
“Now you see that’s snowballed and they are having a successful time on the pitch. We put those building blocks in place and until we left Rotherham we did the same. “My enjoyment comes when I get my boots on, get my whistle and can go and coach players, get them at it and create winning teams.”
Having enjoyed the taste of success so much the two are determined to add to their eight promotions in 12 years with the Stags.
“You never forget days like when you need to win to get promoted or wins at Wembley, they are fantastic times and I know the fans of Mansfield will remember their day winning at Wembley,” he said.
“We want a lot more of that. There is an opportunity to do that here. We are not going to a Championship club where we are trying to save them from relegation. There is a real positivity here to go and achieve something.
“That would mean promotion and we are certainly capable of that. It’s going to be a tough job, but if people get behind us and the players get behind us and everyone pulls together there is not reason we can’t achieve that.
“What I did say to the players before our first game was how difficult it was knowing you were coming here.
“It’s a hostile place to come and get a result when the crowd get behind the Stags. The fans have embraced us so far and really got behind us.
“We said to the boys before the Blackpool game, you can see the reaction. They want to cheer you, they want us to attack.”
Latest | December 2016