"I was a big of a gun-slinger as a player."

Oldham Athletic's assistant manager Gary Brabin does not dress up the role he was given by managers when he was a player himself. If a team was in trouble, the then midfielder's no-nonsense style was one that they turned to in an effort to claw their way out. And it worked.

"Where people were under pressure they would bring me in and I had a good record of going into places and never in my live have I been relegated," Brabin explained.

"That's something I was proud of. But that seemed to be my calling in football."

Brabin's early football years, he feels, gave him that kind of battling edge.

"I loved playing football as a kid, typical street type football growing up," he said.

"There were none of the academies or anything like they have now. We had to get buses and go places on our own. It's unbelievable how much it's changed but I grew up in that environment."

It stood him in good stead.

"I was fortunate enough to have played professionally and pretty much at the end of my career I got straight into coaching and managing," he added.

"I always wanted to be a manager and learned from my football career. I probably learned from more what you felt was missing or was wrong and I wanted to change that if I ever got a chance in management, which I was fortunate to do.

"I think you're always pinching ideas for training sessions and formations. All of a sudden someone comes along and has a lot of success and people think they've reinvented the wheel. They haven't, it's things that have been going on for years but you take what you believe in."

Looking back on his own career as a player, though, he wishes he had raised the bar.

"As I get older and wiser... I don't have any regrets but when I look back I think I should have done better," he said.

"You learn from it and I try to put that into football now as best I can to try to get the best out of players."

And that's exactly what he and manager Micky Mellon intend to do with Oldham Athletic in their first full season in charge, having come into the club last October.

"I wouldn't say I try to fit the team round the players but I think it does govern how you play to a degree, unless you go into somewhere and you completely change it and start from scratch. Most of the time when you go in as a manager you're taking over a squad of players that for whatever reason the manager's left and you've got to get the best out of them, and that's something I've always enjoyed," said Brabin.

"When Micky asked me about coming to Oldham I was excited about it. I had to think about it for other reasons - not the challenge or the club or working with Micky, it was other things that had a knock-on effect on my life, but it was one I was excited about and decided to take.

"It's a good club.

"Everything about Oldham was, and is, positive.

"The new owners have come in and have put the club in a fantastic position and have gone above and beyond to support the club on the pitch.

"We've come into that.

"But it is a tough job. I knew it was going to be tough.

"It's tough for different reasons, challenges that managers have to deal with. It's a tough job but one that we can see we're moving forward with.

Brabin, 53, has been a number one himself as manager of Southport twice, Cambridge United, Luton Town and Tranmere Rovers before favouring the role of assistant at Port Vale, Blackpool and back at Luton before the call came to join Mellon at Boundary Park last year, alongside his role as sporting director of Welsh club TNS.

"I've got young kids and I want to spend more quality time with them, and I didn't want to be become a managerial mercenary who goes from club to club to club. I wanted to take stock of what I'd done and the next time I went anywhere I wanted it to be right," explained Brabin of his decision to step back from management.

"I'd like to think I've had success as a manager, I've got to play-off finals and cup runs and gone into clubs who are bottom of the league and kept them up. I think I've had a lot of success as a manager.

"But I took the decision to become a coach or assistant manager and I've been fortunate to have those roles.

"It's been good. I'm underneath and anything the manager spills I'm there to catch it for him. That's the best way I can describe an assistant manager, filling in the voids of what a manager misses.

"I try to do that the best I can and bring other qualities as well, like the recruitment side of things and the coaching, and the experience as well.

"As an assistant manager I don't ram my opinions down anyone's throat.

"You're going to have time's where you're disagreeing but at the end of the day I've been in that position and if we have a different opinion on something I will back and support the manager in what he's doing.

"That's why I'm doing this role and enjoying this role."