Watch: Pascal Chimbonda's full interview with ITV Granada Reports Sports Correspondent David Chisnall.
Former Premier League footballer Pascal Chimbonda has taken on the role of manager at Skelmersdale United.
The ex-Tottenham Hotspurs player has told ITV Granada Reports he hopes he can turn the club around after they were relegated last season. They are currently at the bottom of the North West Counties Football League's table.
Having retired as a player in 2019, the 44-year-old right-back wants his time at Skelmersdale United to mark the start of a successful coaching career.
He said: "You always have to start somewhere, and the chairman gave me the opportunity to start my coaching career so I’m pleased with that."
His arrival at the club in October was met with surprise from many, as it is uncommon for a Premier League player to take on the management of a non-league team.
Pascal said: "As a black coach, it’s always hard to get a job in any club. So you start here, and maybe you’ll follow with something good.
"It’s difficult for a black coach, I don’t know why... but I think I have a lot of experience and that can be helpful."
According to a 2022 report only 4.4% of managers are black, despite black players making up 43% of the Premier League and 34% of the EFL.
Pascal hopes his presence at Skelmersdale United will increase the chances of more diversity among club managers, while also giving him the chance to prove his coaching skills.
He said: "I have a goal in my head, but first of all you have to start properly. I have to do well here. If you don’t do well here you can’t go nowhere.
"I want to go to the top of the game, but only if things go well here. Stay in the league, and then next year go up again.
"I want to strive for greatness, but at the minute I don’t think about the future I just think about the present."
While it might be far from the Premier League, Pascal has chosen a difficult team to manage.
Despite finishing 11th in the Northern Premier League, Skelmersdale United was relegated after its pitch failed a bounce test and was therefore unable to meet the FA ground grading regulations.
Pascal said part of the reason he joined the club was to help it return to its place in the Northern Premier League.
Pascal said: "I knew the club was in the league above, and it got relegated because of the pitch and facilities. It’s a good club, you know. I want it to be back where it was before."
Since the season began in July, Skelmersdale has lost 18 of its 21 matches and sits at the bottom of the table.
Pascal said: "I think you have to take every game as they come. We played Chadderton, they’re third in the league, and they are not better than us.
"You know, we could’ve won that game but it was a draw. We take it game by game so we know what level we are, the players we’ve got, and I think we can do something."
He said: "When I was on the pitch, I try to give my best. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but it doesn’t matter if you give everything. I will respect that, I will shake your hand.
"But if you don’t give everything on the pitch, and we’re beat by a team lower than us, I won’t have it. It’s the same in the Premier League."
His tough coaching style may not have produced results yet, but Pascal has confidence his players will turn the season around.
He said: "Some of the players maybe weren’t born yet when I played football but... I know the players will do everything to make it work.
In contrast to Skelmersdale United, which has only ever played in non-league matches, Pascal Chimbonda spent five years in the Premier League.
He first played for Wigan Athletic, joining it for its first ever season in the Premier League in 2005.
During that season, he played in all but one match for the club and was named best right-back in the Premiership.
In 2006, Pascal was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur for £4.5 million. During his time at the club, Tottenham's manager Martin Jol referred to him as one of his most dedicated players.
Pascal also had a brief career as an international player, appearing as a member of France's 2006 World Cup squad albeit without Pascal making an appearance.
His new position at Skelmersdale United is not his first experience of non-league football in the North West, having played for Blackburn Rovers between 2009 and 2011.
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