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National League's best young managers

National league's best young managers

Jamie Vardy may be the ultimate poster boy for non-league football but when it comes to managers graduating up the ranks, the success stories are few and far between.

Of course, Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock cut his managerial teeth in non-league, starting out at Gainsborough Trinity, and Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder did the hard yards with Alfreton, FC Halifax Town and Oxford United.

Paul Hurst landed himself a Championship job with Ipswich Town in the summer – he started out with silverware at Ilkeston Town and Boston United before guiding Grimsby Town to promotion and moving on to Shrewsbury Town.

But there is plenty of talent waiting to break the door down.

Here we take a look at some of the Vanarama National League managers we could see in an EFL dug-out in the future.

Luke Garrard – Boreham Wood

Only 33, Garrard was just one game away from becoming a Football League manager with Boreham Wood.

The Hertfordshire club based just yards away from Elstree Studios – where films such as Indiana Jones and Star Wars have been filmed – nearly wrote their own Hollywood ending last season.

Considered a surprise package, Garrard's side finished fourth in the division and then reached the promotion final at Wembley.

Despite facing a Tranmere Rovers side reduced to ten men inside the opening minute, Boreham Wood came up narrowly short as they went down 2-1.

The former AFC Wimbledon defender has also helped the progression of playing careers. Star of their promotion push Bruno Andrade, who scored 22 goals, is now in League Two with Lincoln City. He was joined at the Imps by England C keeper Grant Smith.

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Daryl McMahon – Ebbsfleet United

The former Leyton Orient, Stevenage and Cambridge United midfielder walked away from the chance of a promotion medal with Boreham Wood to take Ebbsfleet United's reins at the end of the 2014/15 season.

Charged with taking on a bloated squad that was underachieving in the second tier of the non-league pyramid, McMahon's men finished second in his first full season only to miss out on penalties to Kent rivals Maidstone United in the play-off final.

Success followed the next season, this time they beat Chelmsford City in the final, before last season's seventh-place finish in the Vanarama National League.

They beat Aldershot Town in the play-off Eliminator game before the injury-ravaged squad eventually succumbed to Tranmere Rovers in extra-time of the semi-final.

A classy player, McMahon likes his side to get the ball down and play and he regularly shows he is happy to make bold tactical changes.

His man-management stands out as he focuses on building strong relationships with this players, who are a mix of experienced campaigners and bright talents.

Currently in a sticky spell, you can back McMahon to get his side firing again and show why he naturally drifted towards coaching and the analytical side of the game even in his playing prime.

Dave Challinor – AFC Fylde

Ask football fans what hearing Challinor's name evokes and many will say that famous long throw he used to exhibit at Tranmere Rovers.

But for the last eight years he's also been carving out second career as a gaffer. Starting out at Colwyn Bay in the Northern Premier League, he led the Welsh club to promotion in his first season.

He then dropped down two leagues to take up the manager's role of ambitious, and well-backed financially, AFC Fylde.

The Lancashire club make no secret of their intention to reach the Football League, with the target of 2022 stitched on to their shirts.

Three promotions under Challinor later and that looks an even more likely goal.

Some will argue Challinor has had the resources but it's never that straight forward.

Well educated – he has a first class degree in physiotherapy – Challinor impressed Fylde chairman David Haythornthwaite by adding a handwritten cover letter when he sent in his CV. This is a story that has more chapters to pen.
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Vanarama are undertaking a 45-day challenge to raise £150,000 for Prostate Cancer UK.

Find out more about the lease a van, save a man campaign.

Sam Ricketts – Wrexham

It's fair to say it's very early days in the management career of Ricketts. Just 12 games in fact.

The 36-year-old is held in high esteem in the game from a playing career that went from non-league with AFC Telford to the Premier League with Bolton and even internationally with Wales.

Ricketts took over at the Vanarama National League's longest-serving club in the summer knowing the only remit is ending their Football League exile.

The former Wolves defender saw Nuno Espirito Santo up close last season through his work at the club's academy and he gathered plenty of advice from past managers before taking his seat at the Racecourse.

A good start to the season has got the Red Dragons' faithful dreaming of promotion. Ricketts has been around long enough to know it's just a start both for him personally and the club – but watch this space.

Anthony Johnson & Bernard Morley – Chester

That's right, the two shouty lads from the Salford City documentary. But delve a little deeper and you will see that this managerial duo know how to get success.

They took over at North West Counties League side Ramsbottom United in their mid-20s and won two promotions on a shoestring budget to land the gig at 'Class of 92'-powered Salford.

Another two promotions followed in the next three seasons before last year winning the National League North.

They parted way with the Ammies in the summer and are now trying to revitalise a Chester side that has hit the rocks both on and off the pitch.

Ranters and ravers? Five promotions in six seasons may well suggest something else.

Gavin Rose – Dulwich Hamlet

Hamlet hit the headlines last season after being caught in the middle of a row between a property developer and the local council that saw them kicked out of their own ground.

But in the background Rose went about guiding his side to promotion through the play-offs after three years of heartache at the same stage.

However, Rose's big success stories are the many players he and his management team have rejuvenated. Picking up discarded talent, Rose polishes them up, gives them first-team football and guides them into the Football League. It's a long list.

George Elokobi was one of his first, Erhun Oztumer is now in the Championship with Bolton Wanderers and the latest, Reise Allassani, who starred last year, is with Coventry City.

On their day, Hamlet can be one of the most enjoyable non-league sides to watch.

This article was written by William Denny from Football Whispers.