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Jay Saunders: Margate felt like the right job for me

By Matthew Panting

Jay Saunders turned down job offers at the same level as Margate – before accepting the task of keeping his former club up this season.

The former Maidstone manager also spoke to Macclesfield twice since the end of last season.

But he was ready to see out the rest of the season in a watching capacity before Margate came calling.

New Margate boss Jay Saunders, left, alongside Mike Sandmann, who remains as part of the coaching team. Picture: Don Walker
New Margate boss Jay Saunders, left, alongside Mike Sandmann, who remains as part of the coaching team. Picture: Don Walker

“I did have offers and enquiries but nothing was quite right, whether it was distance-wise with the family,” said Saunders. “It had to feel right, I didn’t want to rush back in.

"I had a long and successful time at Maidstone and I didn’t want to jump into a job.

“I had chats and asked to go for talks. I had another call from Macclesfield before Sol Campbell went there but for whatever reason that didn’t come off.

“If I’m honest, I had it in my head that I’d wait until the end of the season and see what came up.

“But once Margate gave me a call it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.

“There’s two clubs throughout my career that stand out, Maidstone and Margate. I played 400 games for Margate and it was somewhere I always enjoyed being.

“When that opportunity came up I just felt it was the right time to go back in.

“The board have been great when I spoke to them about bringing a couple of players in, and they’ve given me the assurances I need. Hopefully it works out well for both parties.”

Saunders has only been out of first-team management since the end of August – but it feels like a lifetime.

“I love football, I want to be back involved,” said Saunders. “When you’re out for six months, it feels like an eternity.

“For me it’s great to be back involved, I’ve missed the buzz of even speaking to agents and other managers, trying to get players in – I’ve missed all that.

“There’s no better feeling when that goal goes in and you get something out of the game.

“For me it feels a long time. I’ve not had a long break during 30 years of playing and managing.

“I went away and had a nice holiday and tried to take a break from it but I’ve missed it.

“Everyone’s been very welcoming, I’ve had some lovely messages and Mike’s (Sandmann) been good to come in and work with.

“I’ve taken a bit of a backseat (so far) but there’s things that need to be changed and they will be changed.

“I’m looking forward to putting them in place and hopefully the boys buy into it.”

As for his first game in charge, the 1-1 draw at Tonbridge on Saturday, Saunders is pleased with the way his new charges applied themselves.

“We deserved something out of it if you look at chances,” said Saunders.

“There were plenty of positives for me. There were lots of things that were good, and things we can improve on.

“We wanted to go 4-3-3 in the first half, we didn’t want to be too open away from home and wanted to get bodies behind the ball.

“In the second half, we matched them up a bit more and had a go at them.

“It’s a great point for us, we’ve come to a club in the play-off positions and put in a decent performance, it gives the lads belief.

“What I’ve learnt is that the core is there and we need more options. There’s enough to work with, we’ve just got to add one or two and we’ll be fine.

“I’ve been non-stop on my phone for the last couple of days and it’s been good. I will speak to a couple of players on Monday morning, maybe Sunday, to see if we can do something.

“The players (I want) are out there and it’s a case of trying to get those deals done.”

Read the match report from Margate's 1-1 draw at Tonbridge here

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