John will be meeting the media this lunchtime, but took time out to explain the process leading to his arrival, whilst looking back at his career since leaving Sale FC in 1998. He also revealed his thoughts on the present squad.
John started by talking about the initial contact from the modern day successors of the former club, and why he had to return to South Africa to clear his name before returning.
He said, â??Well, Dimes sort of gave me an SOS call to see what was happening. At that particular time I was in suspension and had to go through a process. I'm thrilled to have got through that process to be found innocent of all allegations.
â??The next thing was to be reinstated in my position and then at that point I mutually agreed with the Golden Lions that they have moved on and emotionally I have moved on. That's what I had to get done. It's taken a lot longer than I would have hoped. It's been six months and five days of a hearing. So it's been an arduous process but I had to get everything cleared so that I could move on. My reputation is still very much intact and also my brand.
â??To come over and have a look was quite refreshing as I was able to understand what was happening at Sale and see why the team are in this position and then look at bringing some solutions. (Mitchell watched the games against Cardiff Blues, Montpellier and Worcester Warriors)
â??So I've been talking to Dimes about certain ideas to help move us forward. I was always committed to coming back. I said to Steve that I wouldn't let him down. I would have liked to have been here sooner but obviously I was still employed by the Lions. There was a lot of speculation but I was always coming back.
John Mitchell and Steve Diamond
â??You go back to when I was first here as a player coach, from 1996 to 1998. Sale were in the transition of going from amateur to professional. I think only five of us were professional. The club has come a long way since then certainly in terms of professional rugby.
â??Since leaving to work with England and the All Blacks, I've had the opportunity of building a brand new club at Western Force in Perth so that brought different skill sets and was a huge task. Then I went to the Golden Lions and looked to rebuild a club that was struggling hugely and to bring them success was something I enjoyed.
â??But what comes with those jobs is that you are not dealing with the best players in the world. You have a whole number of challenges outside of just playing rugby.
â??In this situation now at Sale Sharks, the reality is that we are 'bottom of the log'. It's not going to be an easy job but I think there are a couple of immediate issues. I think some players need to increase their desire and their performance within the group. They need to have a far greater collective desire to change this and we need to play more pressure football.
â??If there is one thing I've noticed, it's probably that were playing at the wrong end of the field and we need to create more pressure as a team. We seem to be quite comfortable and enjoy playing with the ball but I'd like to see us get a little more excited without the ball and create more pressure at the right end of the field.
â??In terms of the challenge, I back myself in these situations and I back my people that I work with. I've never been afraid of difficult challenges. Some of my mates think I'm mad and that I should sit back and wait for a Test team but at the end of the day rugby is in my blood and I think this challenge is something that stimulates me because of the situation that Sale Sharks are in.
â??If the coaching group and players can grow as a result of my influence then that's great, but at the end of the day one person can't turn this around. The key to leadership is sharing and making sure that people take responsibility for their roles.
â??Bryan's a very intelligent rugby man and he comes with good knowledge and thinks about the game deeply. Dimes has the ability to simplify things and he's very passionate about this place and I probably come with a bit more all round experience. But it's not about who gets the credit, it's about getting out of this reality.
â??Rugby can deal you some hard cards at times but when we dig ourselves out of this situation the club will be even stronger for it. At Sale we have always prided ourselves on playing an attractive style of rugby but also been a very hungry side. And when we're hungry were pretty hard to stop.
â??So I'd like to see a lot more hunger. You don't necessarily need to be the best football side around but you do need that hunger.
â??It's easy to come back. I didn't play too many games back then but we often talk about our moments in that 1996-97 season and the good times and the tough times. We weren't a great rugby team back then and we didn't have a lot of big names, but we dug deep for each other and that's all we're asking of the group right now. Just to dig deep for each other and care for each other a little bit more.
â??If as a result of that we become hungrier and start playing pressure football, we're going to be a difficult side to encounter.
â??I think there has been an improvement in the scrum, There was youthful referee at Gloucester and it's unusual to have so many penalties at the scrum but certainly at Worcester and against London Irish the scrum had made huge improvements.
â??I'm a futurist and one of my strengths is that I do focus on the present. Ultimately we're not going to win all those remaining 13 league games but first and foremost is this Friday. In this industry you just have to take one week at a time.
â??We're coming into the coldest, wettest months of the season and there's a type of game you have to play now to get results.
â??We've put ourselves into this situation but you shouldn't be afraid of failure. You should use it as a positive to move forward and if there's enough experience within the group to understand that we'll be fine.
â??Depth is always an issue an issue in the Premiership and there are some potions which are a little bit thin as a result of injury but those are the cards we've been dealt with.
â??Now it's about collectively understanding what we've got to do and making sure we transfer our preparing to game time.â?
John Mitchell was talking to Neil Leigh of the Manchester Evening News. Reproduced by kind permission.
John's first game will be against Northampton Saints at Salford City Stadium on Friday, kick off 7.45pm.
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