Hallam first step back into pro ranks for Watts

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IN Julian Watts, Hallam have brought in a forthright, straight-talking man determined to reach the top of the managerial ladder.

It was just over a week ago the former Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United centre-back was appointed the new manager at Sandygate.

Watts, who also has a League Cup winners’ medal under Martin O’Neill at Leicester City, replaces Kenny Geelan, who stepped down following the team’s 4-2 defeat to Liversedge.

After a six-month stint learning his trade as assistant manager at Maltby Main, Watts is now aiming to revive Hallam’s fortunes. It promises to be a major challenge for the 39-year-old, with the non-league outfit having collected just 10 points from 21 matches.

Hallam are bottom of the table, four points from safety and without a league win since September. But despite the club’s precarious position, Watts is confident he can lift the gloom and lead them away from the relegation quicksand.

Watts told The Star: “I have been looking to get into management for quite a while so I was delighted when I got a phone call from David Slater (Hallam’s chairman). I’ve known him for a number of years and he has always known that I wanted to get into management. I’m looking forward to the challenge. It is going to be difficult but it is up to me to motivate the players.”

Watts, who grew up in Dronfield, says all the managers he has worked with throughout his career have influenced his footballing beliefs, but particularly O’Neill.

“Martin (O’Neill) was great,” said Watts, who started taking his coaching badges in May 2009. “He didn’t do much on the training ground; he left that to his coaches.

“He was very good at motivating people and had a great work ethic. We had a great togetherness and I think every team needs that.

“It was all about being positive and encouraging people. That is what Martin did. He rung every last drop of potential out of every player he managed.”

On his target for the future, Watts, who retired from the sport seven years ago, said: “I want to get back into the professional game. I want to start off at this level and work my way up if I can. I think this is a good place for me to start.”