New Asfordby FC manager Lee Mann ready for big homecoming challenge
New Asfordby FC boss Lee Mann's intentions to put the team back on an even keel are fuelled by more than ambition.
The former Melton Town captain’s appointment as manager of the Senior League strugglers marked the completion of the circle in his football journey and marked something of a homecoming.
Mann’s first club on leaving Leicester as a boy was Asfordby Amateurs where he did service with the club’s junior ranks from under 11s through to under 13s.
“It’s quite strange; I’ve almost come full-circle,” he said.
“There have been a few changes, but it’s still very familiar surroundings.
“When I was playing for Melton we also played at Hoby Road for three years.”
Mann’s return to Asfordby might have come a little sooner had he accepted an invitation from his predecessor Jon Allsop.
“I got asked to come to Asfordby as a player by the previous manager, but I couldn’t leave Sileby,” he added.
“Then I got a call from Joe Aldridge to tell me that the manager had left.
“My name was passed across to the chairman Simon (Atherley), we had a couple of brief conversations and went from there.
“I wasn’t actively looking for a manager’s job, but the opportunity to turn things around at Asfordby and build on what’s already in place up there was too good to pass up.
“It’s a very interesting and exciting project.”
The task he faces in his first job as manager is a stiff one.
Asfordby are rock bottom of the Premier Division in their first season since promotion with only three points after a six-point deduction cast them adrift.
Mann not only has to haul the team away from relegation danger, but must also find virtually a whole new team with which to do so following Allsop’s departure.
The extended break Asfordby were granted, tagged onto the league’s scheduled Christmas break, gives the new managerial team breathing space.
And though he is just a handful of days into the job, player recruitment is well under way.
“Eight to 10 players left to follow the previous manager so we have to rebuild,” Mann explained.
“We will have the makings of a decent team by January 5. We won’t be the finished article, but will have a strong and competitive squad.”
His long association with the Melton football scene means he is not short of helpers with strong local ties.
An extensive back room staff has already been assembled, including Tom Weller, Lee Duffy, Joe Wilkinson and physio/trainer Danny O’Brien.
And though it will be his first role as number one, Mann does already come with a grounding in management, as well as many years of responsibility as captain.
Since ending a 10-year spell with Melton Town, he has spent the last season-and-a-half as assistant to Ross Perkins with Asfordby’s Senior League rivals Sileby Town.
He is also still registered as a player and prepared to offer his services on the pitch when the need arises.
“I haven’t hung my boots up yet; I’m still registered as a player and will play when required,” he added.
“It will be different, but nothing I’m not used to. Being at Sileby has helped and as captain at Melton I had a lot of say on what went on.
“Obviously before as captain you lead on the pitch, but as a manager you are doing a lot more things off the pitch.
“You can’t just turn up, put your boots on and lead the team anymore so it’s a slightly different role, but many aspects are transferable so it feels quite natural and normal in a lot of ways.”
“Primarily my target is to stay in the division; that is key, and I’m more than confident we can do that.”