I still find it hard to watch from the sides, says Boston United boss Lee

Jason Lee.
Jason Lee.

HE IS little more than a year into his managerial career, but Boston United boss Jason Lee says he still finds it tough to leave himself on the sidelines.

In a playing career that has spanned 23 seasons, including appearances in the Premier League with Nottingham Forest, it could easily be argued that there is little left for the target man to experience.

But he concedes the fire is still in his belly, even if he has to force himself to stay in the dug-out.

“I find it tough (to stay on the sidelines),” he admitted.

“Especially if I feel maybe I can go on and do something different in the game.

“I’ve spent years of my life playing football so it’s natural that I want to be out there, every second.”

And, despite missing the buzz of lacing up the boots and running out onto the turf at 3pm every Saturday, Lee said he finds it even tougher to keep his tracksuit on if his side are chasing the game.

“It’s not easy when I want to just throw myself on and do what I do,” said the man who has scored more than 120 career goals.

“But it’s not for me to play every week. I like to see other people showing that commitment, fight and desire.”

From the way he and Lee Canoville attempted to set up their Boston United side since taking over the reins in March last year, it is obvious Lee favours a player in his own mould up front.

Although, judging by the bloodied bandaged heads on defenders from the likes of Harrogate and Colwyn Bay this season, few can match his physical presence.

As he attempts to keep himself on the sides, Lee has utilised the likes of Lawrie Dudfield, along with Adam Boyes and Mikel Suarez, as the towering figure up top.

Mickey Stones, a raw and imposing talent, drafted in from the reserves, was the player Lee wanted to become his protege.

Stones was handed training and dietry guides at the end of last season and told to report for pre-season training fit enough to compete at Blue Square Bet North level.

However, despite Lee’s patience as he tried to polish what he saw as a rough diamond, a mystery recurring knee injury saw Stones forced to put his footballing career on hold.

But still, that patience is a virtue the two current Pilgrims bosses firmly believe in... a far cry from the red-faced snarling of ex-United boss Steve Evans, who originally brought the pair to the club as players.

Canoville came up through the Arsenal youth ranks and has spoken on how the Gunners’ juniors were handed regular encouragement.

So it’s easy to see how the joint managers, this season, have endeavoured to dispel negativity from their dressing room, even saving the occasional tongue-lashings for the post-match press calls when the club have underachieved.

Evidence of this has come throughout the season as the duo continued to put their faith in young players, excusing mistakes.

“You can have a blip, but it’d be wrong to crucify players, they’re young and trying to do the right things – it’ll come,” Lee professed earlier this campaign.

However, having moved on 10 players so far this season, and telling a further five they had no future at the club last summer, Lee is not afraid to throw sentiment out of the window.

But where possible, he and Canoville have preferred to try to find the answers to puzzles, such as the current formation, which includes three shorter players in attack – something you would never expect of a team organised by Lee.

Lee added: “If I wasn’t a player manager, but just a manager, I’d have to sit on the bench and find those answers.

“That’s what we’re trying to do. I’m trying to rely on others instead of putting myself on there.

“But if we can’t get the people to do that then we have to find players who can.

“As a manager, I get great satisfaction from players coming in and doing what we want them to do.

“But then, sometimes, when it’s physical and it’s combative out there, as that’s something I always enjoy, then I miss it.

“I can’t lie, I always want to be in there.”