Playing against Eric Cantona to 3 Promotions as a Coach - Steve Castle

'The biggest challenge to most managers I feel is to keep a happy squad. Never easy in my opinion because, the stronger the squad the more headaches it can bring....'


Name, age, where are you based?

Steve Castle 54. Living in Hertfordshire, England.

Current and past Roles:

Head of Academy (125 students) at Oaklands College St Albans.

1st team manager at Royston Town FC. Step 3 of the Non League Pyramid.

1st team manager/coach at ST Albans City FC. Step 2 of the Non League Pyramid.

1st team Assistant manager at Cambridge Utd FC. Step 1 of the Non League Pyramid.

1st team player /coach at Peterborough Utd FC. Step 3 of the English football League.

Under 16-18’s lead coach at Stevenage Borough FC. Step 3 of the English football League.

Under 13’s head coach at West Ham Utd Academy. Step 1, English Premier League.

Qualifications:

UEFA A licence.

How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?

Towards the end of my playing days I had the opportunity to combine both by accepting a player coach role at Peterborough Utd FC. Over a period of 3 years I fulfilled most coaching duties including reserve team manager, 1st team coach and assistant manager of the 1st team.

My contract was up at the end of the 3rd year, I got offered a 4 year deal to just coach but opted to try to carry on playing, moving clubs to Leyton Orient FC. Whilst at Leyton Orient I combined my playing with running West Ham Utd under13’s, training players like Mark Noble and James Tomkins.


Any main highlights and achievements?

As a player 3 promotions. 2 PFA team of the year awards. 3 hat tricks including a 6 minute hat trick at Stockport.

As a manager/ coach I have had 3 promotions 4 2nd places (missed out in play off’s)

I have played against top players like Eric Cantona, Glen Hoddle, Juninho, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes too name a few. Still as a player but with a different slant on it, my” High profile” managers that I played for were Peter Shilton, Frank Clark and Trevor Francis.

How did your experience as a former player help ease you into coaching, or was it a matter of getting straight into the mix and getting on with it?

As a recent former player I do feel you tend to have an empathy with the lads, especially the older players in the squad. I feel you know how much work they need to do or not between matches more accurately. Also how they need to be spoken too, respect is massive!

As a player and captain of most teams I played for, there was a “Leader” mentality there from an early age. I was one of the youngest Leyton Orient captains at 20.


What experiences did Peterborough Utd provide you in terms of developing as a coach and as a person working within football?

Even though my title was player /coach, for large periods there was also a 1st team coach. Phil Neal, the ex Liverpool legend was the first but the best by far was an ex Luton Town FC player in Wayne Turner. Wayne was a superb coach and I learned a hell of a lot from him. How to coach, how to handle people, how to make coaching fun!!

Now as a 1st Team Manager, what are some of the biggest challenges you face and how do you maintain the right balance with the squad?

The biggest challenge to most managers I feel is to keep a happy squad. Never easy in my opinion because, the stronger the squad the more headaches it can bring.

Be honest be up front and players will accept it. I’ve been very fortunate in my managerial career where I have good honest lads, who will probably accept the fact if they are out of the team, because the manager mostly keeps to an unchanged team if it’s a victory.

What previous experiences would you say, have been useful in your current role and how have you now developed into your own style?

I have definitely developed my own style! As an FA coach you are encouraged to “Go in” to the session and coach by stopping the play to identify issues, I don’t like to do that. I would rather keep the play going and pull the player or even 2 players, quickly give them information and let the game flow!

Previous experiences, I’d say, thinking about the game, looking at it tactically as well as the performance.


What’s been best for your career development so far and what do you do to keep upskilled?

In the Academy having a 6 week stint in a certain formation then regardless of result, changing. We feel at our academy it’s an education rather than a result’s led scheme. It takes the players a while to adjust to styles but they have to be adaptable in my opinion.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced and how was you able to overcome them?

Starting my managerial career I always felt that stating coaching points over to certain players was hard, especially senior players. On occasions they would be in denial and a block would go up! Now by technology and frequent video analysis, they have no argument. It’s there for all to see.

How’s the future looking for yourself?

I hope it’s looking good but you never know in football.

If the Covid 19 hadn’t hit our level football as it did(Null and void) there was a great chance we as a club would have had yet another promotion, Not just me talking it up , if we had have had the “Points per game” method we would have been promoted to Step 2 of the pyramid.

I would love the opportunity to ply my trade professionally especially abroad. I believe my qualities would prevail in all levels.

As said I like to think of myself as someone that knows the values of the game. How to set up a team to compete week in week out. To perform with freedom and flair at the same time have the basic organization that is needed to excel!



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