Ferguson ‘not scared’ of challenge at Forest Green

Duncan Ferguson says he is not “scared of a challenge” after taking his first managerial role at Forest Green Rovers.

The former Everton assistant manager was named head coach of the League One club on Thursday.

They are currently bottom of the table and without a win in eight matches.

“It doesn’t matter to me what level I work at. I’m not scared of a challenge, I’ve never been scared of a challenge in my life,” Ferguson, 51, told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

“This is one of the reasons I came here because I wanted to improve the team. I know we’re in a difficult position at the moment but I believe we can climb the table.”

Listen: BBC Radio Gloucestershire – Duncan Ferguson speaks to Steve Kitchen

Ferguson left Everton’s backroom staff last summer after eight years and two brief spells as the Premier League club’s caretaker manager, with the aim of finding a managerial position himself.

He travelled to Gloucestershire to meet with Forest Green owner and chairman Dale Vince on Wednesday – immediately following the departure of Ian Burchnall – and said he made the decision to take the job after the pair had a short chat.

He is due to take his first training session on Friday ahead of Forest Green’s next match away to Shrewsbury on Saturday.

“I drove down from Liverpool and after speaking to him (Vince), he was so passionate about the club – I knew quite a bit about the club and I thought ‘yes, this would be a good start for me’,” Ferguson said.

“We were only talking for 15 or 20 minutes and I made my mind up, really. I drove back up to Liverpool and I’ve driven back down this morning. It’s happened very quickly.”

Ferguson scored 73 goals in 273 appearances for Everton during his career as well as honing his coaching experience there.

His status as a club legend led to some calling for him to be given the now vacant managerial position there, following Frank Lampard’s sacking on Monday.

“It’s never quite happened to me,” Ferguson said of Everton, “so it’s my time to come out and get some experience.”

‘Why not try veganism’

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Forest Green might be in the midst of a relegation battle for league survival, but Ferguson said the main driving force behind accepting the offer was a desire to work for Vince.

“I met the owner, he was very passionate about the football club and that’s what I loved about it, so that’s why I came,” Ferguson added.

“He’s put so much effort and time into the area. He was talking about the new stadium, the new training ground, all of these things are coming alive.

“They’ve got a bit of a budget there, we can bring in players, so I thought ‘yes’. I know we’re in a difficult position, he sold it to me and, to be honest, it never took long.”

Ferguson is by far the highest profile footballing name Forest Green – who were only promoted to the English Football League in 2017 – have had associated with their club.

Vince said he felt confident that with Rovers four points from safety and 18 matches still to play, they can secure their status in the division, having only won promotion last season.

“We got on really well, I like him a lot, he’s a straight talker, I’m a straight talker,” Vince told BBC Points West.

“We’ll get a bounce from this, I’m certain of it. It will galvanise the whole club. We’ve got the talent on the pitch, we need a bit of leadership to get them to do the job and I’m confident, actually. There’s only a few points in it, [and] a lot of games to play.”

Ferguson has signed a five-year contract with Forest Green and said he will “give everything” he has got to the club.

He is planning to move from his home in Liverpool to Gloucestershire, and with Forest Green proudly declared as a completely vegan football club, he also said he was willing to try veganism – after eating a vegan burger with his new chairman at the media photo call.

“I’m not a vegan but why not, why not try some vegan burger. I’m looking forward to it,” Ferguson added.

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