LISTEN Shaun shares non-league stories
Tuesday 9th April 2019 @ 13:22 by Mark Phillip

Manchester City legend Shaun Goater hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to the dugout as a first team manager.

The 49-year-old, who became a cult hero at Maine Road after scoring more than 100 goals between 1998-2003, is currently enjoying a coaching role with the Macclesfield Town Under 18s squad.

Away from the pitch, the former striker regularly takes part in media duties and watches City home and away.

Goater is currently enjoying life after a turbulent spell in the non-league game, in which he coached New Mills alongside Andy Fearn for a one-month spell in 2015, before taking the reigns at Ilkeston Town in February 2017.

Deep-rooted issues behind the scenes at both clubs gave little chance of delivering of success.

Goater joined New Mills in coaching capacity ahead of the 2015/16 season in the Evo-Stik First Division North. The Millers had been granted a reprieve from relegation the season before and were therefore preparing for a second stint in step eight.

Despite Goater’s vast experience at the highest level, combined with the non-league wisdom of veteran manager Andy Fearn, New Mills were unable to create a winning formula and instead fell to nine consecutive defeats. Goater was left with no choice but to walk away. He said: “At New Mills I was assistant to Andy Fearn; he called me and asked if I’d help him out in terms of coaching, and I agreed because I like to stay active when it comes to coaching.

“When you’re not coaching you tend to lose it. That period was good because it allowed me to get on with coaching. Andy is from a non-league background, so his style was more direct.  I was allowed to coach in terms of keep-ball and finishing, but when we got to the game I was given a different signal to what Andy and the players had. 

“We had a tough time and struggled. They brought the FA Cup (to Church Lane) and wanted me to have pictures with it for the paper. 

“We ended up playing a team lower than us – Armthorpe Welfare – and lost. My name was attached to this so I needed to sort it out. We ended up losing more games and with my name even more tied to it people started to think I was the manager. I saw what was happening and walked away. I had to call it a day.”

New Mills failed to win a single game that season and collected three points from 42 games, resulting in relegation to the North West Counties Premier Division. Despite competing at a lower level the club continued to struggle, and despite a 4-3 victory on the opening day against Cammell Laird 1907, the Millers suffered another relegation to step 10 of the English pyramid.

Undeterred by his first foray in non-league football, Goater took a leap of faith and accepted the role as Ilkeston manager 17 months later.

Despite inheriting a side low on confidence and destined for relegation from the Evo-Stik Premier Division, Goater remained optimistic and had full faith in the long-term plan.

However, optimism soon turned to scepticism as financial issues crippled the club. Reflecting on that period, Goater said: “I was at the healm of the Ilkeston project.

“Their model was based around 18-21 year olds stay at home players who were paid in the region of £50 a week. That allowed them to become semi-professional and get on the ladder. If they played well then perhaps someone would scout them. The model was good up until the point where there wasn’t enough experienced men in the team. We got bullied. I only had three players who were 6ft. We played against teams where every player was 6ft. 

“To cut a long story short, he (the owner) didn’t pay the players. I arrived in February and he hadn’t paid the players since December, but I didn’t know this until my first day. 

“The players asked if I’d spoke to the chairman, so I asked about what, and they said that they hadn’t been paid since December. I was like, ‘are you kidding me’? 

“I had newspapers wanting to interview me, but I continued and so did the players. One of the players actually lost his car because he didn’t have the money to pay for it. It was really tough and we got relegated. We had 15 games left and we needed 11 wins. We just weren’t strong enough to do it. It was effectively a double relegation because the club owed so much money to different people. I didn’t event attempt to ask what I was getting paid.”

Goater has since abandoned the idea of first team management – until now.

Questioned on the possibility of a return to the dugout, he said: “Well you never know. 

“I coach the Under 18s at Macclesfield Town in a voluntary capacity and I enjoy it. The lads want a future in the game; they’re excited; they’re energetic and want to learn, so I’m happy to keep myself coaching.”

Picture; Shaun (centre) with Sky Sports presenter David Jones (left) and Jamie Redknapp (right)