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First team

Premier League return on gaffer's birthday wish-list

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

When Jason Tindall blows out the candles on his birthday cake today, he can reflect on an impressive first 100 days as manager of AFC Bournemouth.

And together with health, happiness and winning the lottery, leading the Cherries back to the Premier League at the first time of asking will be high on his wish-list.

Since his appointment, Tindall has presided over 11 games in the Championship, with a yield of 20 points five better than at the same stage in 2014/15 when the Cherries won the title.

Until losing at Sheffield Wednesday 12 days ago, Tindall was the last remaining manager in the top four divisions whose team boasted an unbeaten league record.

While he acknowledges he may not have been everybody’s choice to replace Eddie Howe, for the club, he offered continuity at a time of considerable change.

Relegation resulted in a huge turnover of players, with no fewer than 14 members of last season’s squad departing for an assortment of reasons while there were also other consequences.

Reviewing the season so far on the eve of his 43rd birthday, Tindall told afcb.co.uk: “On the whole, I think it’s gone well and only losing one league game has got to be deemed a good start.

“There are a few draws in there which, in an ideal world, you would like to have turned into wins.

"But there have probably only been two games where I felt we underperformed and we’ve also had the odd half here and there where we could have been better.

“Taking everything into account, and not just the results, I think it’s been a good start because the circumstances were difficult when I was first appointed.

“We had to deal with the disappointment of relegation, we lost a number of players, we had to pick people up off the floor and there was a change of manager.

“Players like David Brooks, Junior Stanislas and Lloyd Kelly were all coming back from long-term injuries so we had to be patient with them and make sure they didn’t overdo it.

“For me personally, I knew it was always going to be difficult taking over Ed’s mantle because of the success we had under him.

“We had just been relegated and there was all the disappointment surrounding that. Players want to play in the Premier League and they had to get their heads around where we are now.

“They had a new manager on top of that and there are a lot of things that people don’t always see. It has a really big effect on everyone at the football club.

“In some senses, I knew I was almost on a hiding to nothing. There was a lot of doubt about how things would be and I know some people doubted me and my appointment. I was aware of that.

“It was a case of trying to do the best I could to get things right. We’ve got a good squad and good individuals but it’s about picking the best team, not just the best individuals.

“It’s difficult and that’s been a challenge for me. On reflection and at this early stage of the season, I’m pleased with the work from all the staff.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tindall also had to contend with a shortened pre-season and fewer warm-up games, although his squad hit the ground running by starting with a nine-match unbeaten start in the Championship.

“This season has been very different to any other,” he said. “Normally, players have eight weeks of training behind them and lots of pre-season games.

“In the past, preparation was a lot smoother. This time round, it has been a quick turnaround and we have had a lot of games in a short space of time.

“After 11 games, I think everybody is where they need to be physically and I hope we might start to see a more settled team and squad now.”

Tindall, who holds the UEFA Pro Licence, was former manager Howe’s assistant during his 456 games in charge of the Cherries and was also by his side during 18 months at Burnley.

Asked what it was like to have the buck stopping with him now, Tindall replied: “I’ve already had to make some big calls in terms of team selection and players leaving. When you’re the manager, you have to do that.

“I will always make whatever decision I feel is best for the football club and the team. Every player has personal goals and objectives but the biggest thing for me is not thinking about that, it’s thinking about the team and the club.

“You know every decision you make carries a consequence. If you make big calls and get them right, people say ‘wow, that was a brave decision’.

“But on the flip side, if they don’t work out, people will criticise you. That’s the nature of the game. As a manager, you live and die by your decisions.

“When I took the job, I knew how I wanted us to play and I knew the direction I wanted to take. You have to control your emotions because they can be your worst advisors.

“The second you start listening to your emotions, you make bad decisions and you can say the wrong things. 

“I don’t read the press and I don’t look at any social media because I don’t think that helps. For every ten good comments when things are going well, there are two bad ones and vice-versa. For whatever reason, whether it’s personal or people not wanting you to do well.

“It’s important I don’t let anything like that influence the way I manage because that could have an adverse effect on your mood and bring unnecessary pressure.

“I want to win every game and that’s the pressure I put on myself. When we draw or win and don’t perform well, I’m disappointed. I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve perfection and when that doesn’t happen, I’m disappointed.

“But there are much greater pressures in life. At the moment, people can’t feed their families, can’t see their loved ones and are stuck in houses and flats with no escape. That’s a lot more pressure than any football manager is be under.”

A father to daughter Sienna, 14, and ten-year-old son Levi, Tindall’s mother and father, Jan and Jimmy, together with his sister Evin and brother-in-law Darren have all moved from the London area to be closer to him.

Asked how important his family had been to him, Tindall said: “I don’t surround myself with too many people and will only ever listen to and speak to people who will tell me as it is.

“I’m lucky enough to have a good family around me. My wife Claudine has been there from day one and she knows me better than anyone and knows my moods.

“She has been great in everything she has done in terms of holding the family together because of the demands of the job that I’ve been involved in for so long.

“My mum and dad and my sister and brother-in-law have all moved to Bournemouth which has been really good because I get to see a lot more of them. They have followed my career from when I was a kid.

“They will always be honest in what they say and have always been there for me in a time of need, as have Claudine’s mum and dad who have been like my mum and dad for so long. I’m very lucky to have some close-knit friends as well.

“We all know people who you can pick up the phone to and will tell you what you want to hear and will massage your ego. That’s not me. For me, they are the worse people you can speak to because they are the ones who aren’t honest with you.

“You want people to be straight and say what they think and I’m very fortunate to have those people around me.”

Tindall admits his fiercest critic since he took the job has been his son Levi, a prolific goalscorer for the Cherries under-11s.

“I’m not going to reveal some of the things he says! laughed Tindall.

“For someone so young, he’s very intelligent in the way he sees football. He says things to me sometimes and I have to look at him twice because he speaks way beyond his years.

“He’s at the age now where I can have a proper chat with him about the game and ask him what he thinks. If things go well, he’s very complimentary but, if things go badly, he criticises me for my decisions. He’s obsessed with football!”.

Tindall made 199 appearances for the Cherries across two spells, winning promotion from Division Three in 2002/03, although injury kept him out of the play-off final against Lincoln.

As a youngster at Charlton, his progress was checked by Osgood-Schlatters disease in his knees, with a knee injury later in life eventually forcing him to retire from playing.

Asked whether a modest playing career had made him more determined to succeed in management, Tindall replied: “I grew up in the East End of London and you had to fight for everything.

"You were taught that as a kid and nobody gave you anything for nothing. Anything you got, you had to work for.

“Coming through as a kid, I had a lot of knockbacks and a lot of obstacles to overcome. I had them in my playing career and my early management career.

“You get knocked down, you get back up. You never give up and never stop fighting. That’s in my nature and whatever happens from this moment on, I will always be the same.

“I want to do well every day and want to continue to get better. It’s not for my own personal gain, it’s just in my DNA.

“Now I’m manager, I want to do the best I can for the football club, not for Jason Tindall. I want to win at everything I do.

“If I can win at Bournemouth then nothing would make me happier and prouder. I’ve worked extremely hard to get here and am desperate to achieve success.”

You get knocked down, you get back up – you never give up, never stop fighting

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