TROY DEENEY was sacked from his first job in management before he even received his first payslip.
After just six matches in charge of League Two’s bottom club, Forest Green Rovers, the former Watford captain was told he was being relieved of his duties.
The morning after his shock dismissal, Deeney said: “They told me it was because of results but I have trouble believing that.
“I feel to a certain extent I have been used for my contacts and pulling power.
“We had brought in five players in this window, most of whom would not have dropped down to the bottom of League Two if it wasn’t for me — including Maxi Oyedele, on loan from Manchester United.
“Four weeks ago, I was the solution. Now I’m told I’m the problem.
“The club knew the type of character I was, someone that had been in the dressing room and knew changes needed to be made if the club was going to grow and gain improved results on the pitch.
“When you’re taking over a club in the middle of a season and it is rock bottom of the league you can’t take your time and go easy. Hard words needed to be spoken and I felt that we were about to turn a corner with results.
“Was I the problem? Or is it the club that is about to appoint its ninth manager in less than three years?
“I was expected to turn around the fortunes of a failing club in less than a month. I hadn’t even received my first payslip as a manager when they told me they were getting rid of me.”
Deeney is an outspoken, passionate man. What you see is what you get.
He had been at Forest Green for four months, as a player-coach to previous boss David Horseman. So owner Dale Vince knew what he was getting when he appointed Deeney as boss on December 20.
The former Premier League centre-forward verbally savaged his own players following last Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Harrogate, claiming there were ‘too many babies’ at the club.
The previous day he had sent midfielder Reece Brown home after he frequently turned up late for training.
And hours before his sacking, he was hit with a four-match FA touchline ban for misconduct when he was sent from the dugout during a controversial 2-1 loss to Swindon on December 29.
Deeney said: “The comments I made about the players in the media last weekend should never have left the dressing room and I apologised to them for that on Monday.
“That was a mistake which will not be repeated and a lesson learned for when I go back into management — and I do want to go back.
“Four weeks ago, I was the solution. Now I’m told I’m the problem.”
“The ironic thing is that I felt those comments had helped to raise standards and focus minds. The team had trained really well all week, people had stopped turning up late.
“People have tried to make out I had some personal issue with Reece Brown — it’s not true, I’ve known him since he was at Birmingham, he’s a good player.
“But the idea that a manager might want his men to turn up for work on time and give 100 per cent, is that really so outrageous?”
As for his touchline ban, Deeney said: “I don’t know if that contributed to the decision. I attended a disciplinary hearing where I was commended for my conduct and I plead guilty to those aspects that were true.
“I admitted I called the linesman a ‘weasel’ and maybe I used that word in a different context to how it was interpreted but I shouldn’t have said it.
“Still, I can’t believe this decision was made on results after only six games.”
Rovers drew three of those six matches, and lost the others — two of them through serious misfortune. While football is an infamously impatient ‘results business’, it would have been an extraordinarily short period of time to sack a boss purely on results.
Deeney was having dinner with his backroom staff when he was called at 6.20pm on Thursday and asked to return to the stadium, to speak to director of football Allan Steele.
He said: “I wanted to get the staff together and it had been an enjoyable meal, everyone was in good spirits and then I got the call. I just felt embarrassed when I left the restaurant.
“I asked why they wanted me to come in and was told ‘we have decided to go in another direction’. Then I was told it was a decision based on results.”
Owner Vince has not spoken to Deeney directly about his decision.
And Deeney said: “The whole thing has been done without any class. I don’t feel bitter. I feel more hurt for my assistant David ‘Ned’ Kelly, who has also left the club, than I do for myself.
“The idea that a manager might want his men to turn up for work on time and give 100 per cent, is that really so outrageous?”
“I even feel an element of relief this morning. I wish them well. They have a squad of players which should not be anywhere near the bottom of League Two, especially with the new players I brought in.
“There is a losing mentality which Ned and I had been trying to reverse and I feel many of the things we put in place will benefit the team going forward.
“But whoever the next manager is, he had better get things right in three weeks or less.”
What next, then, for 35-year-old Deeney — who only played his most recent match last month? He said: “I won’t deny that this hurts but I have never been one to shrink from a challenge.
“It has taught me to be more selective about jobs and roles I take but I’m highly motivated and will regroup and go again.
“One thing my career has taught me is that you grow way more from adversity and I’ll learn from this and get stronger and will be successful in my management career.
“One thing’s for sure, I never give up.”