Un­sta­ble jobs are not worth the risk

SO I’LL DE­VELOP WITH YOUTH TEAMS

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE -

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.

Learn­ing

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.

Ex­pe­ri­enced

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.

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