Unstable jobs are not worth the risk
SO I’LL DEVELOP WITH YOUTH TEAMS
BEING a young manager is a risky business – just look at Darren Kelly’s short-lived tenure at Oldham. Previously Oldham gave Lee Johnson the job. Brilliant. It was a great opportunity and he did really well before moving on to Barnsley. And, most importantly, they gave him time to settle into it.
Then they brought in Darren. I don’t know him personally, but I know people who speak very highly of him. He seemed to have been given a brilliant opportunity – but was it really?
If you’re only going to give someone seven games then it’s not really an opportunity is it? If you’re not going to commit to someone and give him at least a year, then there’s no point giving him the job.
I work in Brighton & Hove Albion’s Academy, taking charge of the U16s and U15s. I know it’s completely different to first team management, but it’s a great environment where you can implement your ideas and see them come to fruition.
We’re a Category 1 academy – we play games against your Arsenals and Tottenhams. We’ve got our own physio, analysts, assistant coaches, conditioning coaches and wonderful training facilities.
Working in youth development is really good for me as a coach because I’m learning myself.
Why would you swap that for a job at a League Two club, where you might have an assistant manager if you’re lucky or maybe even an intern as your analyst because there’s no money?
Of course there is a flip-side. If you get the right club and the right chairman, the world is your oyster.
It’s risk and reward. You’ve got to have an understanding chairman who has the same beliefs as you and will stick by you.
It’s easy to say it sat in an office in pre-season. But when there’s 5,000 people screaming at the chairman telling him the team’s rubbish, or the crowd drops by 700 people the next week, will they stick to the values they talked about at the beginning of the season?
More than anything it’s about picking the right chairman. A lot of ex-players rush into it. From what I’ve seen, the best thing is to go to work in a youth academy for maybe five or ten years and really learn how to coach.
When you’re working with senior players you don’t have to be a great coach. The players will get it because a lot of the time they’ve done it before. They’ve got the knowledge to fall back on.
But if you’re working with nine or ten year olds and you’re not clear with your instructions, they won’t know what to do. There’s no hiding place. I had a few sessions at the start that were horrendous. It wasn’t because of them, it was me. I knew the skill I wanted to teach but couldn’t break it down. I’m more experienced now.
Just because you were a really good player – and I’m not saying I was – doesn’t mean you will be a good coach.
The amount of training sessions I’d been in over the years and thought, ‘This is terrible – I can do better than this’.
When I started my coaching badges I realised how hard it is. I felt like ringing up a few coaches and apologising for my behaviour.
You have to learn your trade. It’s a big ask to go from a player where you just have to look after yourself, to looking after 20 opinionated footballers.
Like everything in football, it takes time.