Shaun Goater has landed his first job in football management in Britain after taking over struggling Ilkeston of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.
And the former Bermuda and Manchester City striker knows the magnitude of the task ahead of his debut at home to Sutton Coldfield, with the team second bottom in the 24-team Premier Division and with only 17 matches remaining. They are still 12 points adrift of safety.
“Today we had a light session, the first time for me meeting the players,” Goater told The Royal Gazette yesterday. “The team is a very small team and the league is very physical.”
The 46-year-old joins a slew of Bermudians at the club, including recent captures Dale Eve and Danté Leverock as well as Jaylon Bather, Tehvan Tyrell, David Jones Jr, Paul Douglas and Jahquil Hill.
Goater will keep an open mind about bringing in more talent from Bermuda.
“Recruitment of players will be based on players who have a size about them,” he said. “Dale Eve is the only [Bermuda] player [at Ilkeston] that I had some inkling about. I followed him a little bit when he was at Stoke. With Andrew Bascome as the national coach and Kyle Lightbourne I can get up to date on the Bermuda players.”
During the past few years Goater has applied for managerial jobs at League Two sides Bury and Scunthorpe United and Vanarama National League side Chester. He also spent time working as a part-time coach at then League One side Doncaster Rovers after being brought in by previous manager Paul Dickov, who formed a deadly strike partnership with Goater at Manchester City.
Ilkeston had been mired in a nine-match losing streak in all competitions — and winless in 17 — before a 2-1 away victory over Barwell, who are eleventh, on January 28 and playing to a goalless draw on Tuesday at home to fifteenth-placed Coalville Town.
Goater added that it will be a tough task to get the Derbyshire club to safety, but “there are still a lot of points to play for and games against teams around the bottom of the NPL Premier Division”.
Ilkeston have forged strong ties to Bermuda during the past few years through Paul Scope, who co-owned the now defunct Bermuda Hogges along with Goater and Kyle Lightbourne.
Scope, a former Bermuda assistant coach, established a link with Ilkeston in 2013, with numerous Bermudians spending time at the club such as Robin Hood pair Antwan Russell and Lejuan Simmons, while Nigel Harrop, the Ilkeston chief executive, is a former Bermudian resident.
Goater said he had not spoken to Scope back in Bermuda prior to taking the job. “I didn’t speak to Paul at all, I didn’t realise Paul was connected with the club until late,” he said. “I kept an eye on the club when Rai Simons was there. I went to watch them play last season when they had a game which, if they won, they would have got promoted, but they lost. He didn’t play, with the fact that his deal was all sorted out as far as going to Chesterfield.
“When I had the opportunity I was going and looking at lower league games.
“The odds are really against us, 17 games left and needing ten or 11 wins. The one thing you have with youngsters is they give you energy and endeavour.”
Goater, who returned to England 3½ years ago, lives in Cheshire — about a 90-minute drive to Derbyshire.
He has been doing some radio commentary on Manchester City games and has appeared as a studio guest BBC on Saturdays.
“I did commentary on the radio for home games, sometimes BBC also asked me to do games if City are away. Now, with Ilkeston, you’ll hear less of me.”
Ilkeston were briefly suspended by the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League just days before the start of the season for a “breach of rules and regulations and a failure to pay football creditors”.
The club claimed they had been “aggressively pursued” having been poised to secure a payout after former player Che Adams’s £2 million move from Sky Bet League One side Sheffield United to Championship outfit Birmingham City.
The debts were settled a fortnight later with the suspension lifted with immediate effect.
Goater stepped down as coach of Premier Division side North Village in 2013 after four seasons with his boyhood club. He led Village to seven trophies during his tenure, including the league title, the Friendship Trophy three times, two Dudley Eve Trophy titles and a Charity Cup.
He turned down the Bermuda coach’s job on a temporary basis before the appointment of Andrew Bascome.
• Bermuda striker Nahki Wells will play one of the biggest games of his career today when Huddersfield Town team take on Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup today.
The match has been sold out with 24,000 fans set to be in attendance at the John Smith’s Stadium with Huddersfield looking to upset the Premier League side. Huddersfield have won six straight matches in all competitions and sit in third place in the Sky Bet Championship.