Ex-Newcastle player questions England cricket legend Steve Harmison’s football nous after 12-game ban

Ashington manager Steve Harmison
Ashington manager Steve Harmison

Jarrow Roofing defender Liam Atkin says he doesn’t know if his former manager Steve Harmison has what it takes to be a success in football after the former cricketer was given a 12-game touchline ban.

Roofing welcome Harmison’s Ashington to the Boldon CA Sports Ground tomorrow with Atkin keen to put one over his old club.

Ashington made national news after boss – and 2005 Ashes cricket hero – Harmison was banned for 12 games for a bust-up with a referee.

Former Newcastle United reserve player Atkin, who worked for a short time under Harmison, believes that his old boss often goes with his heart rather than his head.

“I would imagine that he’ll probably be very disappointed with himself for allowing to get himself banned,” Atkin said.

“I think that in football, when there’s a situation that’s a bit tense he sometimes goes with his heart over his head which might come back to haunt him a little bit.”

Harmison has not been in the game as a football manager for very long, and Atkin is not sure if he has the credentials to be truly successful in the long-term.

“He is a motivator, rather than a hands-on tactician,” he said of his old manager. “I’m not sure how much he knows about tactics.

“He’s a football supporter who has decided that he wants to become a football manager. He obviously wants to succeed in football but I’m not sure if he can.”

Atkin, who signed for the Roofers from Ashington in January, is now a regular feature in Richie McLoughlin’s side.

Results over the last few weeks have drastically improved on South Tyneside, though the team are still far from the finished article. And Atkin is a player that acknowledges that there are still some areas of the game that the side need to work on.

“It was only a matter of time before we clicked,” he said, referring to the team’s recent run of improved results. “We’ve still got a long way to go though, we’re conceding too many goals but the good thing is is that we’re outscoring the opposition now.

“We’re creating good chances and though some goals are petty mistakes, that’s just what happens. We just need to minimise those mistakes now.”

As an ex-Ashington player, Atkin realises the threat that the opposition pose tomorrow, though he believes that the club hasn’t performed to their own high standard over the course of the season.

“They’ll be up for it, though they’ve been hit and miss this year,” he said. “The Ashington squad probably isn’t as strong as where they saw themselves at the beginning of the season.

“Considering some of the players they’ve got I thought they would have brought in a better overall squad. They’ve got some very good players, but they are definitely beatable.

“We finally look as if we’re safe now and they look the same. It’s one of those games where it’s all about the pride and probably, from our point of view, to just keep continuing and finish the season on a high.”

With the season coming into its final stages, Atkin is looking ahead to next campaign where he thinks the side can push on.

“We definitely need to build for next year, get a couple of new faces,” he continued. “We don’t need a drastic change, that has probably already taken place.

“The squad just needs fine tuning and then to find new players which will actually benefit the squad.”