Newport County: Coughlan not impacted by sporting director exit

The Exiles announced the departure of sporting director Darren Kelly last Thursday “for a new chance closer to home”.

County released a video with him earlier last month discussing the approach for the January window, but it was Coughlan who took the lead.

He worked with assistant manager Joe Dunne and Chris Finn, who has worked as a scout for Nottingham Forest, Cardiff, Norwich, Middlesbrough and Birmingham, to sign his former Mansfield midfielder Harry Charsley and loanees Matt Baker, Charlie McNeill and Calum Kavanagh fetch.

Coughlan says the departure of Kelly, who was based in the north of England, will not affect his recovery work.

South Wales Argus: Newport County sporting director Darren Kelly was in charge at Crawley after James Rowberry was sackedNewport County athletic director Darren Kelly was in charge at Crawley following the firing of James Rowberry (Image: Agency Huw Evans)

“It doesn’t change my role,” the manager said. “If I don’t win enough football games then I’m sure the club and the fans will come for me!

“It doesn’t really change where I’m from, I controlled the transfer market [dealings] Despite it.

“As a manager, I will have a say in who comes into the club and the team, who goes out and who comes in.

“I was in control of it and will decide because it’s my head on the block, so I couldn’t allow anyone to make decisions like that.

“If I made good decisions in January then I’ll pat myself on the back, if I made bad decisions in January then I’ll get a hammer on the head.”

Kelly interviewed candidates for the post of manager and then compiled a shortlist for the board when James Rowberry was appointed in October 2021 and again a year later when Coughlan was selected.

The position was created in summer 2021 with responsibility for recruiting and retaining from academy to first team, as well as overseeing departments such as medicine, sports science and analysis.

Whether County will replace Kelly, who has had minimal day-to-day dealings with first-team affairs at Spytty Park, has yet to be determined.

South Wales Argus: Graham Coughlan, Newport County ManagerGraham Coughlan, Newport County Manager (Image: Agency Huw Evans)

“I’ll just carry on as before if I’m told that there are changes or that they will go in a different direction [with the structure] then that’s football,” Coughlan said.

“I have no idea what the thought process is or what’s going on behind the scenes, my job is on the grass and bibs, balls, cones, players.

“Board matters are out of my hands and well above my pay grade.”

Luke Hussey was appointed academy manager last autumn and the former Bristol City manager will be tasked with navigating the journey from senior football to the first team.

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