Graham Alexander has vowed to repay the faith shown in him as he celebrates two years at the helm of Fleetwood Town.
There was no match on Saturday to mark Alexander’s second full year in charge – his first match a 0-0 draw with Southend United.
Town line up against another United this weekend, as the former Burnley and Preston defender enters his third year as a full-time manager. The Blades of Sheffield are high-profile opponents for what Town hope will be an early Christmas cracker.
Despite his tenure being a few days over two years, Alexander is currently the 17th longest-serving boss in the Football League.
It’s a statistic which hits home for Alexander, who knows he’s working in a field where the life of a manager at some clubs is now measured in months.
“I don’t know. I can’t bring any sense to that,” he said.
“Some of the decisions that are made at clubs are beyond belief sometimes.
“I don’t know how people can change it. It has to come from the powers – the owners, the chairmen.
“They are the ones who are in charge of the industry. It’s a frightening statistic.
“Unfortunately it’s just the way of modern football. If it turns around and goes the other way, then great; if it doesn’t, you have to fight for your life.”
Alexander knows he’s lucky to be working under chairman Andy Pilley, who is on only his third manager in 11 years – Tony Greenwood and Micky Mellon the only other men to have sat in the Highbury hotseat since the energy entrepreneur took charge.
Alexander insists there’s a welcoming atmosphere at the club and says he couldn’t be happier with the people he has around him in his quest for further success. “I do know there’s a lot of responsibility for me and my staff,” he told The Gazette. “Responsibility too the supporters, the players, the chairman.
“I like that, I like the trust people put in me. It’s a joy to be at a club with people you love working with.
“Clubs are all about the people. You can have the best building or the worst, the greatest pitch or not, but it’s all about the people.
“What I’ve found here is I’ve got fantastic people to work with. That’s what makes it a joy to come in every day.”
The Fleetwood boss knows that’s not the case at every club in the English game.
“There are different personalities,” he continued.
“There are very loyal chairmen and trigger-happy chairmen. That’s why when you talk about a club it is all about the people.
“What I’ve found here is very supportive people around me. I’d like to think I repay that faith in the way I work and that’s how I want to continue.
“When times do change, you’ve got to keep your pride, your beliefs and your morals. That’s what I’ve always done.
“I’ve done it in my playing career and I’ll do it in my managerial career.”
Having served two years and earned a Wembley promotion with Fleetwood, Alexander admits he’s had plenty to learn since taking his first managerial appointment.
He has had to let go some of the pre-conceived ideas he came into the job with. “I learn a lot,” he said. “You learn every day. Many ideas I came into management with have changed slightly.
“You come in with an ideal mindset of what you want to do and you have to adjust that because it’s not possible.
“My core principles and beliefs are the still same. You have to be true to them.
“It’s been a real eye-opener. Every day there’s a new challenge. But that’s why you get the butterflies in your stomach when you wake up in the morning.
“Everybody likes to be challenged. You’re not always going to win them but as long as you give them your best shot, that’s what counts.”
Alexander, now 43, made his football debut in 1990 for Scunthorpe United.
After nearly 25 years in the game, he can’t imagine another career. He said: “I’ve been through a lot of great experiences as a player and as a manager.
“There have been some hard experiences too but my love of football has never dimmed. It’s my life, I know that. It always has been since I was a kid.
“If I’m lucky enough to work in football for all my living days, I’ll be a very happy man.”