FORMER Rugby Town player James Jepson will be returning to the club as manager after becoming the club’s fourth manager in just over a year.
Jepson, who played for Valley back in 2014, was announced as the club’s new manager on his 34th birthday last Friday after Rugby decided to go down the rookie route again.
Gary Mills was new to management when he took charge 12 months ago and he lasted just seven games before being replaced by ex-Tamworth boss Dale Belford, who then went on to guide the team to a respectable ninth placed finish.
But Jepson is determined to make his mark at Butlin Road and is looking forward to the new challenge ahead of him.
He said: “I would like to thank the board for giving me this opportunity. I wasn’t necessarily looking to get into management at this stage and would have looked to play on for another year or two, but a chance like this may not come along again for a while, so it was one I couldn’t turn down.
“I know the club reasonably well already, and it’s got a great facility and fan base, and even though my time here as a player was reasonably short, I have always kept an eye on how they’re getting on and who has featured for them.”
After being on the books at Notts County as a youngster, Jepson’s playing career has seen him feature at many clubs across the Midlands region including spells at Kettering, Kings Lynn, Gresley, Bedworth, Stamford and most recently AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
The then Valley boss Stringer attracted him to Butlin Road for the start of the 2014/15 campaign, but he made only nine league starts before returning to be part of Kettering’s Southern League – Central Division title winning squad, where he played alongside current Town striker David Kolodynski.
The new manager has already drafted in fitness coach Justin Skeete and scout Donal Flynn, and he is looking to complete his backroom team by filling the advertised physio and video analyst posts, as well as confirming the identity of a trusted assistant in the very near future.
In terms of the playing staff, the new manager said: “I know three or four of the lads already, and I’m hoping to be able to speak to everybody over the next week or two to see what their plans are for next season.
“Everyone will have the opportunity to stay here if they want to for the right reasons, but for sure there will be some new arrivals too and I’m ultimately looking for a good balance of youth and experience.
“I will be aiming to play a high-intensity passing game. A lot of the clubs at this level favour a more route one/final-third approach, but I’m hoping what we can offer is something that is a bit more enjoyable to watch, enjoyable to be part of on the pitch and enjoyable to manage too.”
“It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks putting the management staff together, as well as speaking to current and prospective players and confirming the pre-season fixture schedule, but I’m really looking forward to getting into it.
Club Director Neil Melvin welcomed the latest managerial incumbent to the position, adding: “James represented the type of progressive, committed candidate that we were seeking to fill the role for the long term, and we believe he shares our philosophy on how the game should be played.
“He has good contacts and relationships within the game at our level and geography, and hopefully this should help in identifying and attracting the right type of players to the club.”