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Former Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday star Carlton Palmer is 'eager to get started' with Grantham Town

Grantham Town have announced the appointment of Carlton Palmer as their new first-team manager.

The 55-year-old joins the Gingerbreads in preparation for the upcoming 2021/22 campaign after this season was once again curtailed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Palmer’s experience is known to all involved in the game with the former Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest midfielder amassing 594 appearances at club level whilst featuring 18 times at international level for England under Graham Taylor.

Carlton Palmer and his son in December 2019, image credit PA WIRE. (46186140)
Carlton Palmer and his son in December 2019, image credit PA WIRE. (46186140)

Management is also not an unfamiliar route, with Palmer taking the reigns as player-manager at Stockport County before a spell in charge at Mansfield Town between 2004 and 2005.

Palmer told Grantham Town's Callum Boyle that he was “really pleased” to take the helm at The Meres in a recent interview with the club. He has spent the last seven years in Shanghai as sporting director of Wellington College. Recently, his wife made the decision to return to the UK, with Carlton deciding around five months ago to return with her.

He said: “Obviously, I’d spoken to Sky and I’d spoken to a few people and the obvious route was for me to go back into the media. My wife had mentioned me going back into football management and I said no way. Absolutely no way. There’s a reason why I resigned from Mansfield when I did. I wasn’t enjoying it. And then, strangely enough, that evening I was speaking to Curtis Woodhouse and he was telling me how much he’s enjoyed working in non-league.”

Curtis offered Carlton a role in his set up, but Carlton explained: “I’m not really a number two or a coach really. I’m my own man, who does his own things and has his own projects.

“A day later, Curtis rang me back and said I might have something for you. He said he knew the (Grantham Town) chairman Darren Ashton. He’s a straight guy and you’re a straight guy. He said I think the two of you would get along really well. That’s where it all started and the conversations and the plotting and the planning started there.”

Following the news of the appointment, Darren Ashton spoke of the new boss’ excitement to start and explained why he felt Palmer is the perfect man for the job.

He said: “It’s fantastic news. We’ve been working on getting Carlton in for a while now and been in constant contact with him almost daily.

“He’s eager to get started with us. He’s been offered roles at Football League clubs, but he likes the ideas that the club has. He likes what we have proposed, and we like his ideas he has moving forward and has bought into the plan and is joining for the long-term.”

Palmer will not be the only new face at the club with the new man at the helm also appointing a coaching team. Matt Chatfield joins from AFC Mansfield where he was previously the manager whilst also working at Nottingham Forest as a Foundation Phase coach. The second member of the set-up will be Jas Colliver.

A non-league journeyman, Colliver had spells as a player at the likes of Belper Town and Stocksbridge Park Steels whilst also undertaking managerial roles at sides such as Clipstone, Staveley Miners Welfare and most recently, Handsworth Paramore.

Both have been working hard alongside Palmer behind the scenes to prepare for the new season and Ashton praised the efforts of all.

He said: “It’s already been there for a while bubbling away in the background. We’ve got Jas doing the recruitment for new players whilst Matt has been using his contacts at Nottingham Forest to help sort out some opportunities for us as well as doing the recruitment too.

“It’s been a massive re-structure at the club and they’re going about it differently. We’re not just chucking daft money at big-name players, they need to fit no matter how much they cost, they’ve got to fit this style of play and ethos.”

Palmer emphasised the importance of using Grantham’s academy and developing young players for first team football.

He said: “What’s the point of having an academy and paying all that money to have an academy, if you don’t develop your young players and you don’t bring them through to play.

“We’re going to sit down and come up with a plan going forward to make sure that we develop our own players.

“What I want to do is create a culture that runs all the way through the football club.

“You want to make it fun. Obviously, we want to do well and we want to put a project together, which we are doing. I’ve been working with young players for the last 14 or 15 years. I want to work with young players. You find that the younger players are hungry. They’re more determined.

“We are aligned on the project and how we want to go forward and what we want to build for the football club and Darren understands to do that, there needs to be time.

“I don’t want to play a system to get a result. I want to play a team to get a performance. I want a style of play that’s pleasing to the eye. The way that I used to play with Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United and we want to get supporters back to Grantham.”

Ashton also confirmed that The Gingerbreads would return to training in the town and in a message to the fans, wanted to thank them for their patience and looks forward to welcoming them back to The Meres.

He added: “After what happened last season there’s no pressure on us this year. I want us to get out there and enjoy it and get around the community.

“We’re going to be back training in Grantham which means fans can turn up to come and watch, have a chat with Carlton, the players and each other and see what we have in store for next season once pre-season starts.”

Palmer added: “It’s important that we train in Grantham. It’s important that there’s an identity. It’s important that the fans can come down and watch training and have an interaction with the players.

“Hopefully, if we can get results and we can play a brand of football that they’re enjoying, then we can get the crowds back, which is the aim.

“We’ve already got eight or nine players signed up. We’ve got a few more that we’re talking to over the next few weeks. I want to get the squad in place, because fitness is key to me. I don’t care what anyone says, systems, tactics, all of that goes out the window if you’re not fit.

“We hope to deliver a team that will play some entertaining football. The one thing I will guarantee them. There is no team of mine that will ever take to the football pitch and not give 100 per cent.”

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