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Being a manager is like living under the sword of Damocles – Micky Mellon

Dundee United v Celtic – Scottish Premiership – Tannadice Stadium
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

Micky Mellon claims life as a football manager is like living under the constant threat of the axe as the Dundee United boss backed Neil Lennon to bounce back.

Mellon empathised with Lennon over his departure from Celtic and claimed those who criticise managers should question whether they could operate under the same conditions.

The United boss likened management to living under the sword of Damocles, a character from classic literature who briefly experienced the luxurious life of his ruler but underneath a sword hanging by a hair, before begging to go back to a more mundane existence.

Mellon, whose side face Kilmarnock on Saturday, said: “When you have been a manager as long as I’ve been, you can be really empathetic to any manager losing his job. You really can.

“I have been through it myself and it’s important everyone acknowledges that and allows Neil to recover, like any manager who has lost his job. I’m sure they will come back better for the experience. That’s what always happens.

“When I left my first job at Fleetwood I got a phone call from two very experienced top-end managers and they said ‘congratulations Micky, you are now a better manager, you have done the whole lot now’.”

The 48-year-old former Tranmere and Shrewsbury boss added: “I can tell you now, it’s a tough, tough job being a football manager. We go to places where not a lot of people could live and we have to operate in those areas.

“If you want to know what it’s like being a manager, you have probably heard about the sword of Damocles, go and read about that and see who wants to live under the sword. See who can operate and get on with life underneath there.

“Then you will get a good idea of what it’s like to be a manager. Can you go day to day taking all the criticism and all the stuff that goes along with it?

“All managers should take some comfort that we live under that sword and get on with our lives and show character and get up again on the Monday morning and get ready to roll again. That takes some character.

“If you want to know what it’s like read about the sword of Damocles and see if you want to live under the sword. It might make you think differently before you start hitting Twitter and Facebook and criticise us.

“But we love it. You learn to love it, to love the battle, to get up again. And after an amount of time you get better at it. It’s our world and it’s what we choose to do.”

Mellon also admits his family have had to learn to adjust to life in a football manager’s household.

“When I go in after I get beat, even the dog covers his eyes,” he said.

“My wife is a brilliant football manager’s wife. It’s taken time to get like that. It’s a tough world we are in.

“I’m not asking for any sympathy, we choose to be in it, we love being in it. But it takes some adapting.

“The kids feel dad’s pain and we all suffer when we lose.

“You have got to go again when it feels like the world is after you. You have to enjoy the battle.”

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