Chris Morgan’s first year as Chesterfield’s assistant manager has been an eye opener, but it hasn’t dulled his desire to be a boss one day.
Morgan left Bramall Lane to become Danny Wilson’s number two at the Proact on 30th December.
The duo managed to keep the Spireites in League One last season despite a brush with the drop zone and have had a rollercoaster start to the current season.
The past year hasn’t been particularly kind to Chesterfield off the pitch, the club earning national ridicule with a raffle scandal, dividing their fanbase with the controversial signing of Ched Evans and apparently coming close to administration after a boardroom fall out.
Wilson has had to cope with a ‘one in, one out’ transfer policy, continually had to bat away questions over Evans’ off field situation and was sat just to the right of club owner Dave Allen when he shocked everyone with a surprise resignation at the club’s AGM.
As 2016 comes to a close, however, the capture of former Blades hero Evans appears to be a shrewd bit of business and affairs in the boardroom look relatively calmer, Allen once again committing to plug any financial gaps.
Having a front row seat to witness Wilson dealing with such complex issues has not deterred Morgan from his long-term ambition.
“I’ve seen quite a lot of things in a short space of time,” he admited.
“But it’s not taken the focus away from wanting to do it.”
The 39-year-old began his coaching career earlier than he would have liked, retiring in 2012 from a serious knee injury.
As bitter a blow as that will have been to a battle-harded veteran, it meant he could focus himself on earning his management stripes
“From the minute I started doing my coaching badges and started working, it’s something I’ve set my sights on doing,” he said.
“I’ve said on many occasions I’m not in a rush, I’m still only 39, I’ve got six good years of experience on this side because unfortunately I had to finish my playing career early.
“That pushed me to this side.
“At this moment in time we’ve got a big task of changing the fortunes at Chesterfield.”
Looking back on his first year at the Proact, Morgan speaks with fondness for the group of players he and Wilson have ended up working with.
And with Chesterfield up for sale, he believes they’re an attractive proposition.
“It’s a real good club. It’s got a lot of characters within the club. It’s a club that can move forward, it’s got all the stuff it needs,” he said.
“We’ve got a good set of players, an honest set of players who want to work hard and want to get better.
“I think if you’ve got that you’ve always got a chance.”
Morgan recently stated that all but four League One clubs would be classed as ‘selling clubs’ in his eyes, and it’s been well documented that Chesterfield have kept their heads above water through player sales in the last couple of years.
Their policy of trying to bring youngsters through from academy to first team has given Morgan another chance to teach youngsters the ropes in men’s football, having had a taste of that challenge with the Blades.
“In my time at Sheffield United I had worked with two or three managers as a first team coach and then under other managers I went back and did the Under 21s,” he said.
“I had the experience of working with first team players but also had the connection with the Under 21 players and the developing players.
“When you look at what we’ve got here, we’ve got a good mix. We’ve got a lot of good young players and it’s important to know how to try and develop those players.”
After 12 and a half years at Bramall Lane, Morgan has spent the last year adjusting to a new set-up, a club whose resources don’t stack up against the division’s ‘big boys’ and new expectations.
But as he comes to the end of his first year as a Spireite, he appears to be at ease with the decision he made in December 2015 and confident that better things might be just around the corner for Chesterfield.
He said: “I’ve really enjoyed it, the different challenges, different tasks, difference in what’s expected.
“Coming from a club down the road where every season, every game is geared towards promotion. That’s different here.
“If we can stick a good run of results together we know that we can climb the league and if we can play like me and the gaffer think we can play, we feel we can push top 12, top 10.
“We’re not going to get carried away because we know there are five or six clubs in this division who automatically think they’ll be top six.
“It’s not easy but it’s a good challenge and one I enjoy.”