Picture Credit: South China Morning Post. Gary White taking Hong Kong to new heights'
People with a true passion for football or those who work in the industry and even more so, those who have a true passion for football and also work in the industry, must have unbreakable faith and belief to stay optimistic.
There are some things which cannot be controlled and must be accepted, not worth losing energy over; the obscene money certain individuals (who’s roles are unknown) are earning through pay-outs, the ever growing distance that football is moving away from being the ‘peoples game’, money being used and wasted in wrong areas (while grassroots and lower league clubs suffer and become extinct), the never ending cycle of British coaches being overlooked in their own country for one reason or another (including foreign coaches and other British coaches not in place on merit)….. the list goes on.
Unfortunately, the sport as we know it revolves around money. Money, greed and power and why should we be surprised? This is how the whole world works after all. Do you think leagues, competitions, International tournaments or even pre/post season friendlies are to benefit fans, players or staff? As mentioned before, most things we will never change so I urge coaches and staff to concentrate on factors they can control..... What you want and how to get it!
Control your pathway and career. If you are happy working within youth academies and lower level age groups, the U.K still holds great opportunity for coaches to enjoy your profession. There will still be some clubs or positions that will be filled with ex-pro players or coaches who have been with the club for years, and that’s ok. If this is the level/age group for you, then you need to do the best you can to ensure that you are the best you can possibly be in this arena. You need to make the right contacts, be good at your job and work your ass off.
If you are at this level and have dreams of building your way up into senior 1st Team staff, be prepared to most likely not reach your dream in the U.K, for the reason of ‘dead man’s shoes’ (a term used when someone will never leave their post until they get too old to work) or there will always be someone with a bigger name or better relationship with the gaffer, than you. Besides this, if the chance ever did come around for you to take that BIG JOB in the U.K, would you really want it?
The recent weeks has seen a big-name ex-pro player who had worked in the academy levels before stepping up to the 1st team, get the sack (maybe Notts County or someone). They were not the first and won’t be the last. It’s an all too common scenario and for those without the big name behind them, you may only get the one chance before being sent into oblivion with no road back. If you are seriously focused on becoming a professional coach at a professional club, you need to realise that it does not matter how hard you work, it may not even matter if you get good results, your time for the sack will come. It’s inevitable. ‘It’s a results based business’ I hear you cry….. no, total bollocks. It’s a financial results based business, and one based on your network.
If it’s about being a good coach or manager, or about results, why isn’t Eddie Howe already at one of the perceived ‘bigger clubs’? Why does Mark Hughes continue to get a job? Why have the Cowley brothers at Lincoln City not been tapped up by a Premier League club (they could be at a Championship club soon). If we had a huge whiteboard of every manager/coach in the U.K working at a professional club, there would most probably be 80% who shouldn’t be in that position based on ability and more than likely, the better candidates are stacked up in an ever growing queue of eager, motivated and hungry coaches in the academies… still dreaming and believing they have a shot. Or sadly, if they keep their head down and put the hours in, they’ll get noticed and get the call up.
Picture Credit: Walking Football Online
Let’s cut the crap. If you are serious about being a professional coach for a professional senior team, you need to put yourself in the best position to do it. If you think that waiting around coaching U9’s for 12 years is your pathway to the senior pro game, I’ll show you a coach who has already spent 10 years of your 12, coaching an International team or in the top tier of another league abroad. (as mentioned before, this is aimed at those wanting a Pro Senior career and not coaches who love being academy coaches).
Two of my ex-gaffers; One of them has managed an ex-Chinese Super League club as well as take a handful of International teams, to their highest ever FIFA rankings. The other one, won the Indonesian top tier title in 2017. Neither of them worked with youth academies in the U.K. I myself cannot be in the same category as successful British coaches but even so, I have coached in two top tier leagues and two 2nd tier leagues. I did not coach in any U.K academy and neither did I wish to.
There are many amazing coaches around whether it be at grassroots, community, academy or pro level. The majority of them are happy as a pig in feathers with their role, and that can only be a good thing for the players they work with. Especially having good youth coaches - it’s so vital for the game and it’s sad that this isn’t reflected in their salaries or compensation.
Being rewarded poorly for the great work you do as a coach, will never change, unless you make the change. The key thing to remember if you are not getting what you deserve, is to at least ensure you are getting something out of the deal. Many coaches wouldn’t work for a lower paying job even if it will help them get a better one in the next 2 years, why? ‘Because I’m worth more’…… well that’s just nonsense…… because while you’re moaning about the opportunities you’re not getting whilst stuck in your role which apparently ‘pays you what you’re worth’, someone like me will be working a lower paid job and in 2 years time, they will have taken that position that you think you deserve and they will be worth and getting rewarded 10 times what you are worth.
British Coaches, a message to you all. If you are happy working at your level, then stay there and keep doing the good work for yourselves and others. If you are in a role and believe you deserve more, or you are hungry for more….. only you can make that change. Opportunities won’t fall from the sky and grace your worthiness, hard work alone won’t cut it, knowing an owner's nephew will only get you so far, waiting 12 years for a coach to move on will turn stale, winning matches isn’t needed…….
What are you going to do to make it happen!?