Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Time to put a youth specialist in charge of the England kids

DCThe elimination of a poor England U21 side from the European Championships made me wonder whether it was time to put a specialist youth manager in charge. Where was the flair that was expected of a team that had qualified for the tournament when teams like Italy and Germany had not? And if that’s down to the manager why is it being rubber-stamped by the FA with another contract for Stuart Pearce to coach these young lads?

To see a team that could absorb pressure and hit on the break was a throw back to the senior team and very disappointing to watch.

Sir Trevor Brooking, reckoned England’s display exposed the flawed coaching system in England. “Before the tournament we said the challenge would be to score goals. Creativity and subtlety in the final third is probably something neglected in all the age groups. That is something we have to transform in academies.

“You have to be doing those things at 12-13 and one of the key areas is playing in-between opposing players, looking forward or diagonally. I think we look at the safety pass too early.”

Coaching is something the England hierarchy must look at. There are in the country a number of managers with excellent records of nurturing young talent like Tony Carr, Keith Boanas and Michael Beale. Perhaps the time has come to trust the kids to the youth specialists.

Join in the debate here

Watching the players in a training game perhaps it’s not the coaching but the way the manager set up the team and how the players responded to him. Watch the game for yourselves on my blog – some of you may recognise it from coaching courses you have been on.


8 Comments so far
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A niece goal, but it was more of a lucky moment rather than good fundamentals in possesion play that led to the goal. If you ask the player which fundamental possession parts that was behind the goal, I´m sure they could not explain the goal.

Comment by Björn Ljungberg

Really unbelieveable that these so called coaches rather put on a session thats looks good and not actually game related.
On this article, its time that the FA does look at the youth specialist. We have so much of them and maybe Stuart Pearce should call up Dario Gradi.

Comment by Adrian Johnson

whole heartedly agree, just because they are ex pros doesnt make them good managers,
the creativity is stifled by the game plan which is set by the manager. the game plan will vary from match to match. however the ultimate plan is to win and that can only happen if you attack the opponents goal. also the players need to take some responsibility .. at the end of the day they are out there not the coach. they have to be strong enough to see that if things cna be improved on the pitch take control. while remembering to pay as a team. engalnd always reflects on 1966 but we need a new era now.

Comment by andy

The disease starts at the youngest ages but the symptoms only manifest themselves at the older levels when the physical maturity of other players catches up with our own.

Individually skilful players is what we need in order to mould them into a team later on. Otherwise you are only as strong as your technically and skilfully weakest player.

We set young teams up to win without fully developing their ability to PLAY the game. Short cut development to generate results at U11s does the players no service in the long run.

As a result they are used to being told WHAt to do and when they encounter problems in the game they are unable to apply creative solutions as that aspect of the game (the skill) hasa not been properly taught. It starts at grassroots levels – but where do the pros get their players from? That’s right, the grassroots. If you don’t take time to put down foundations, it’s no good building the walls because, eventually, the structure will fail. Ipso Facto – the case rests, m’lud

Comment by Steve

Unfortunately we are 20+ years behind the likes of Spain and Holland in terms of youth football. I believe we need to get as many junior clubs playing Futsal. 1 hour a week can be spent with some coaching and then into playing the game. The touch and decision making becomes better and they can then take these skills into matches.
It is compulsory in Brazilian schools!
Coaches should also be more than enthusiastic Dads. Getting ideas across properly is a skill. So, maybe all County/local Clubs should control all youth football in their area with a full time paid coaching set up? Funded by the FA’s millions.

Comment by Mike Godfrey

After my first post, i think maybe the FA should employ someone like Houlier.
Houlier spent most of his career producing French talents and maybe with the new FA centre, the FA can model the french way.
We seem to employ the wrong coaches in England, but the way the FA is run and seems to be many favouritism shown in certain coaches and managers.
FA should look outside the box.

Comment by Adrian Johnson

Contrary to popular belief, county FAs are not awash with money – that sits with the Premier League and its clubs. Local Leagues run the league competitions using mainly volunteers to provide their committee structure.

I do agree that there is now a need for paid coaches at local grassroots clubs – maybe full time but probably part -time ‘head coach/Director of Coaching’ with other part time assistant coaches in a similar structure to some American clubs; these would be ‘intentional’ coaches – i.e. to all intents and purposes “professional” (with a small “p”) inasmuch as they will be well qualified and experienced and will actively seek continuous improvement in order to best serve the players they coach.

After all, most other sports expect to pay their coaches for developing athletes – gymnastics, golf, swimming and tennis to name just a few

However, this will require an improved grassroots club structure with bigger, but fewer clubs, with multiple teams to model the continental approach. Too often we have small one and two team clubs competing with a similar organisation down the road for players, sponsorship, facilities etc.

With bigger clubs and the pooling of resources and funding, clubs will be able to pay educated coaches to deliver true development programmes to budding footballers in order to allow them to reach their own potential at whatever level that may ultimately be.

However, local authorities will also have to change their outlook and, possibly, planning laws ,in order to mirror the continental model. This would allow clubs to fundraise and develop their facilities rather than relying on ill kept and vandalised local authority pitches and changing facilities.

Comment by Steve

great post, thanks

Comment by David Clarke

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