Simon Rusk’s first match as Stockport County boss could not have started much better.

A goal inside three minutes away from home, 3-0 up at half-time and eventually a 4-1 win over Woking.

There have been ups and downs since then.

But Rusk has found lessons learned as a lower division pro and then as Albion’s development coach are standing him in good stead.

Stockport are well-placed for a National League play-off place at the end of the season after six wins, four draws and three defeats in Rusk’s games in charge.

The transition from under-23s boss with the Seagulls to the first team role at Stockport has been a smooth one - but there has been one significant difference.

Rusk told The Argus: “In essence the process is the same.

“I felt I had good experience of helping a team develop both collectively and individually and still having to win games of football.

“A first team manager’s job is more intense in terms of the immediate spotlight on your results.

“But that’s something I’m no stranger to in my playing career.

“It changes in that the results are ultimately your priority but the process by which you achieve those results are not too dissimilar.

“The big thing would be the volume of games.

“With 23s football you have small periods where you have a cluster of fixtures.

“That Saturday, Tuesday intensity, which I was used to as a player, I’m now getting used to again.”

Rusk does not have to worry about off-field matters such as players’ contracts.

He said: “The infrastructure at Stockport is very professional, which was one of the biggest attractions of the job for me.

“Lots of people and mentors I spoke to in the lead-up to taking my first managerial job told me similar things would arise.

“Whether it be a reserve team or the under-23s or a first team, players would still be low on confidence or high on confidence, depending on how results are going.

“They will still be disappointed if they are left out of the team.

“They will still agree or disagree with certain aspects.

The Argus:

Simon Rusk at Stockport County (picture by Mike Petch)

“They will still have similar problems in their personal lives.

“The thing about management for me is that your whole week can be deemed successful or unsuccessful based on fine margins.

“Fine margins of mistakes or a moment of quality and everyone can, if not carefully managed, let that result define everything.

“With the 23s there is a bigger picture in play in terms of individual development and getting players into the first team at your club or other people’s.”

Many Albion fans will recall when Stockport came to Withdean with a young Liam Bridcutt and won 4-2.

Or when the Seagulls were looking to take their playing talent off them - or even hire their boss Jim Gannon.

Or when it needed Andrew Crofts’ shot to hit a helpful bobble on the bumpy Edgeley Park pitch to salvage a 1-1 draw for Gus Poyet’s side.

Stockport are now looking to regain EFL status and Rusk got off to a flyer.

He said: “I had my first week here and made a couple of little changes.

“It was nice to see the players working off the back of a win.

“There’s no doubt about it, if you’re winning games of football life is better as a footballer or a coach or a fan so it was an enjoyable start.


“The side were doing well so I was just basically coming in, try to understand my environment, get to know the players, what’s important to them, what’s important to the group, and just working with them, really.

“There was no rulebook being ripped up.”

Rusk is being assisted by ex-Albion boss Mark McGhee and said: “It was good for me and good for the players to bring in someone with life experience which is useful for the role.”

Meanwhile Horsham boy and former Albion youngster Will Collar is making an impact and scored in the 3-0 midweek win at home to Eastleigh.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">It almost takes the net off! 🤯🚀<br><br>If you're going to score your first goal for <a href="">#StockportCounty</a>, do it in style like <a href="">@WillCollar97</a>! 😍<br><br>🎥 Match highlights from last night's victory against Eastleigh are now available ▶️ <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>— Stockport County (@StockportCounty) <a href="">March 24, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Rusk said: “Will has settled in. He had a spell in the SPL and did reasonably well.

“It was a blend of things coming together and an opportunity.

“He has done really well within the group.

“He scored a good goal and was part of a really good team performance.

“Hopefully he can build on that.”