Law backs O’Neill to be a hit as Alfreton manager

Russ O'Neill and Nicky Law
Russ O'Neill and Nicky Law
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Nicky Law has backed Russ O’Neill to be a hit as Alfreton’s number two steps into the hot seat.

O’Neill will take over the reins following Law’s decision to leave the Impact Arena after almost ten years with the Derbyshire club.

A key role at Premier League side Burnley, as the head of national recruitment for the U17-23s, proved too good an offer to turn down.

And, while Law admitted it was an emotional decision to leave the Reds, he believes O’Neill, his trusted assistant, will be a success.

Law said: “I was talking with Russ the other night and he was talking about assistants and I said to him ‘unfortunately, mate, that’s your problem now’.

“I feel like I’ve had the best one I could ever have. Russ has been with me for 14 years and never once have I had to look him in the eye and see if he was there. I knew he was there.

Aden Flint, pictured here celebrating with fans at the end of the Reds' 6-3 extra time FA Trophy second round replay victory at Cambridge United, moved to Swindon Town for �150,000 in 2011.

Aden Flint, pictured here celebrating with fans at the end of the Reds' 6-3 extra time FA Trophy second round replay victory at Cambridge United, moved to Swindon Town for �150,000 in 2011.

“He is someone I trust implicity.

“Never did he do anything whenever I wasn’t there that was outside what we normally do. He’s a real, solid bloke and someone I consider to be a best mate outside of football.

“That won’t change. I said to him if ever he needs any help, I’m sure he won’t, but I’m only on the end of the phone.

“I think he’ll be good. He knows the club, which is important, he knows the way it is run and the structure of the club, how things get done.

Sean Dyche (middle row, left) and Nicky Law (middle row, right) smile for Chesterfield team photo in 1996

Sean Dyche (middle row, left) and Nicky Law (middle row, right) smile for Chesterfield team photo in 1996

“I would have liked to have left the club in a slightly better position in the league. There are players there to get out of the position we’re in and I’m sure Russ is the man to do that.

“He knows those players. He’s got a head start. If someone fresh was coming in then they’d need a period to know people and how things work. Russ slips straight into that now.

“I’m sure he’ll do a great job, I hope he does and I wish him all the best.”

Alfreton, under Law, won the Conference North title in 2010/11, reached the second round of the FA Cup in 2012 and have seen several players make the move higher up the football pyramid.

“To bring lads through and see them evolve (is a highlight),” said Law on his time with Alfreton. “We’ve had many others that have gone on to play League football and are playing League football. That’s a pleasure to think you’ve aided them in that process.

“To get to the second round of the FA Cup and come up against the big ‘uns has been a challenge. Winning promotion to the Conference Prem and getting to second in the league at one stage, when we won at Chester, was another big achievement for the club.

“Someone else has got to take that on now and try and beat that. If they can then that’s great for the football club.

“I just wish everyone at the football club; the chairman, all the supporters, and everyone else that works there all the very best and wish them only good.”

He added: “This was an opportunity which had arisen a couple of months ago and it’s been on the boil since then. It had got to the point where I needed to make a decision and it wasn’t an easy one. To be somewhere for ten years and to have the connections and relationships with the people that I’ve had there was a big wrench.

“I just think this new job has got some longevity. I’m 55 and I have to think possibly now of the next five to ten years. I can see that at this job going forward.”

Law also revealed that a familiar name at Burnley in Sean Dyche gave his appointment the thumbs up. Dyche and Law have known each other since their Chesterfield days in the early 1990s.

“Sean gave the appointment his blessing,” said Law. “I’ve known Sean for many years. He was a young lad out of Forest that had just gone to Chesterfield when I arrived there in ‘93. I probably spent two years travelling up with him. I know Sean very well.

“I don’t think that is going to come into anything at the end of the day. You’re judged on the job you do and not how well you know someone. It’s good to be going to a progressive club; a club that is doing really well. The infrastructure is there.

“They’ve just had a new multimillion pound training facility built. It’s all good for the kids coming through. It’s a great coup for people when they come into a club like that and see that it is one on the up, one with a solid foundation and is a club that invests really well.

“I think that’s an important thing in football and something I’m really looking forward to.”