New Airbus UK boss Andy Preece has high hopes for his new position as he aims to guide the Welsh Premier outfit into Europe and provide a strong role model for future black managers simultaneously. Alex Lawson caught up with Preece to measure up the size of the task
Nervous. Tense. Worried. These are the normal emotions of someone on the eve of a new job. Not Andy Preece. The likeable Midlander is relaxed and raring to go ahead of his first day as manager of Airbus UK, joking that the Welsh weather could prove his first training session’s downfall.
The former centre-forward has a strong history in the game clocking up appearances at Evesham United, Northampton Town, Wrexham, Stockport County – for which he scored 42 goals in 97 appearances – Crystal Palace, Blackpool and Carlisle United. What’s more, he has player-managed Bury to the play-off spots, Worcester to the second round of the FA Cup and Northwich Victoria to two televised FA Cup appearances.
It is from the latter that Preece joins Airbus UK. Leaving a “fantastic team” second in the Unibond Premier league, it was a tough call for Preece. “I have been with Northwich for three seasons working without a contract. I had fantastic players but we had three years of administration, points deductions and being thrown out of the league. It has been very frustrating for me, the chairman, the players and the fans as it’s a fantastic club. We won 90 of 170 games I was in charge but went down two leagues,” he says.
Preece, who lives in Blackpool, is relishing the challenge to manage a side with strong ambitions to gain one of the four European places available in Welsh football. “We are only at the start but there’s plans and objectives which are achievable with a lot of hard work,” he explains. “It’s something to really get my teeth into. There’s still a chance of getting into the European play-off places this season and we are in the Welsh Cup. The transfer window closes in two weeks so it’s going to be busy.”
Preece joins Airbus, currently 7th in the league, following the departure of Craig Harrison to second-in-the-league TNS. He expects to “mix it up” between a passing game and “doing what it takes to win” with his new side.
Echoing the views of fellow Footy Matters interviewee Matt Alexander on his father Keith, Preece thinks the lack of professional black managers in the British game is stark. “Keith and I used to talk and he had a lot of dignity as he definitely deserved to manager at a higher level but never grumbled. It’s very difficult for black managers. Sometimes I do look at my win ratio which has been pretty stable at 40-50% at every club I’ve been at and I look at the fact I have been managing at the lowest level I have ever been at with Northwich and ask, ‘is it because of the colour of my skin?’
“Ulitmately it’s very hard to argue with the stats. It’s hard to even get an interview so I hope I can guide Airbus into Europe and provide a role model to young black managers. My advice would be to get your badges, tick the boxes so there can be no excuses.”
So what about that European dream? “It’s a great opportunity to get into Europe. How many managers get that opportunity to be able to do that? You want to test yourself against the best in the world.”
And few would bet against Preece achieving that dream, as long as that weather holds up.
Tags: Airbus UK, Andy Preece, Black Managers in Football, Crystal Palace, Interview, Northwich Victoria, Stockport County, Welsh Premier