BIG INTERVIEW: Ex-Chorley boss Matt Jansen on Magpies’ chances and his plans for future

Matt Jansen was manager of Chorley for three seasons
Matt Jansen was manager of Chorley for three seasons

Matt Jansen is backing his former club Chorley to survive in the National League after their difficult start to the season.

Jansen walked away from his job as Magpies boss last summer, a departure he opens up on in his recent autobiography, ‘What Was, What Is and What Might Have Been’.

In the book, the former Blackburn Rovers and Crystal Palace striker explains how his playing career was impacted by a scooter accident in Rome in 2002.

He was in the Premier League with Rovers and on the cusp of playing for England.

Then, aged 24, Jansen had to learn how to walk again after the accident.

He’d play on for Rovers and Bolton before later joining former Rovers team-mate Garry Flitcroft at Leigh Genesis.

That paved a path to Victory Park and it was with Chorley that Jansen would hang up his boots, taking over the managerial reins from Flitcroft in the summer of 2015.

Jansen would guide Chorley to the play-offs twice in his three years in charge. The Magpies lost to Halifax in extra time of the final in 2017 and then fell to Harrogate Town the following season. But after that defeat Jansen made a shock exit.

In his book Jansen explains his departure in detail, claiming there were issues over wages and clashes with the then chief executive Dave Riche.

Jansen has not been back to Victory Park since he left before pre-season started in the summer of 2018.

His assistant Jamie Vermiglio would guide Chorley to promotion from the National League North via the play-offs in his first season of management.

Jansen was pleased to see Vermiglio guide the Magpies to the National League and backed them to retain their league status after picking up the first win in their new division with a 3-0 victory over Stockport County last week.

He said: “Yeah I was chuffed to see them promoted because we’d got a great team together.

“Vermo was a good mate as my number two and then he took it on and kept it rolling forward.

“Yes they are struggling this year.

“I think they miss (goalkeeper) Matt Urwin but they have got good enough players and they have proved that.

“You do not become a bad team overnight.

“It takes time to get rid of a lack of confidence, now they have got that first win hopefully that will kickstart them because they are good enough.

“They are good enough to be okay this season.

“The texts I’ve had off some of the players have been tear-jerking.

“If it was to see the players and the management, yes I’d go 
back but it might be awkward in other areas.”

It was while he was still at Chorley that the idea of writing his book came about.

Journalist Jon Colman came to visit Jansen and pitched the idea.

Colman covers Carlisle United – where the ex-Magpies boss began his career – for the News and Star in Cumbria and wanted to tell Jansen’s story.

He showed the one-time England Under-21s striker an article he had read about football’s ‘nearly men’ and wanted Jansen to set the record straight.

The article had claimed that Jansen’s England hopes had been derailed by injury after his scooter accident when, in fact, it was his mental health which then determined his career direction following the incident.

Completing the book has been Jansen’s focus since he departed Victory Park.

“Jon came in 2014 and suggested it,” said Jansen.

“I thought, ‘Oh it is so long ago, is anyone going to be interested in what has happened’?

“Then he showed me an article about the new great hope for England, Harry Kane, and a ‘Be careful what you wish for’ piece.

“Then it reeled off players who did not quite hit the heights.

“The article said I had an injury-ravaged playing career and then I dropped through the leagues.

“But that was not how it was. I got to the heights. I was in the England set-up.

“I was going to the World Cup but I had a crash.

“I was 24, my time was coming, I’d had a successful career up until that point and I was going to have a successful career.

“I wanted to put my point out that, ‘No, that is not actually what happened’.

“Also, in 2002, mental health and psychology in sport was not prevalent. It was frowned upon.

“You were seen as weak if you said you were going to see a physchologist.

“I was not weak. Mental health nowadays is talked about.

“The response has been overwhelming.

“I know there is a lot within the game that struggle.

“More are coming out and being brave enough to say they struggled.

“It is not just football but any walk of life.

“The book can relate to anyone in any walk of life.”

When asked what was next for Jansen in the game, he said: “Anything within the game. I’d like to get back in.

“Obviously the book has taken priority at the moment.

“I have a number of engagements over the next few weeks.

“Whether it is management, coaching, scouting, or if something comes off the back of the book in terms of helping people inside or outside of the game.

“But we will have to wait and see.”