Michael Farrow's sports blog

A collection of new and old writings

…on players moving to management too soon

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Gareth Southgate as Middlesbrough manager

Rushed from club captaincy into management with a junior coaching badge under his belt

It’s not often I see the same side of things to Gerard Houllier. I was watching the last episode of Inside Sport and Houllier made the point that English players are going too soon into management. He talked about Stuart Pearce, Bryan Robson and Gareth Southgate. All fair points I guess, though Bryan Robson actually got worse the more experience he gained and Stuart Pearce has proved to be a fine under-21 manager.

However, Steve Gibson’s appointment of Gareth Southgate really annoyed me at the time and to this day. There is a question in this country of a lack of experience in top flight management. Southgate, who had neither qualifications nor experience of management, was woefully underqualified for the Middlesbrough job. This blase attitude to things like coaching qualifications (“pointless bureaucracy”) and the actual role of being a manager is quite foolish and it is probably why top division managers in this country have, on average, around half the experience of their continental counterparts.

And it’s the whole package. Underqualified managers get jobs and hire their underqualified mates, Football in this country is about belief and creating an ethos, not complicated tactics. Keep it simple, keep it tight and believe in yourself. You drill teams, you don’t coach them. You train one way into them until they understand it. The whole package is wrong and much of the problem is the lack of acceptance of professional coaches. You have to be an ex-footballer of some kind and chairmen thumb their nose at qualifications. I’ve said it on many occasions; I can accept the idea that having qualifications doesn’t make you a better coach but it shows that you have committed yourself to being a professional coach.


Written by Michael Farrow

February 26, 2008 at 7:07 am

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