Another weekend passes with the usual fix of MOTD 1&2, real-time (for a change) and I find myself asking heavily loaded rhetoricals such as how much does Tony Pulis get paid? Sam Allardyce was appointed to the most senior role in English football, right? Paul Clement was at Real Madrid for how long? Did Eddie Howe attend the defensive workshops on his UEFA Pro License course? Before he was sacked at Hull, Mike Phelan had how many years’ experience under the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson? Does David Moyes get paid as a football manager?
In holding the jobs they do, it’s my understanding that the respective coaches/managers must possess the UEFA Pro License (or equivalent EU variant, if coming from abroad) which, is the educational pinnacle of the English FA Coaching system if I’m not mistaken? If this is the case do the FA actually run courses or when someone says they are ‘doing their badges’ is this elite football code for just rocking up to St Georges Park depositing the best part of ten large and then walking out with a cub scout style appendage that is then pinned to one’s resume?
Having visited SGP several times with a former employer I don’t recall seeing the schedule for advanced loom work in any of the shiny buildings I visited. But then again, I saw lots of people doing very little, they were very well decked out in FA tracky bums and all that, but were always on the blower or walking to a meeting in a windy field. Perhaps I wasn’t looking in the right direction?
In isolation, I simply cannot accept that the top 6 clubs in the Premier League (as of Sunday night) are managed by the best managers in the world per se, who come from Italy, Argentina, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal and that the best we can offer is Pulis at West Bromwich Albion. Scarily W.B.A. are having what most pundits are saying is a blinder of a season thus far. Do we resign ourselves to the uncomfortable truth or should we challenge the status quo?
Does it also concern anyone else that these blue ribbon courses were developed by the FA to improve the quality of coaching throughout UK footballing pyramid, but in particular give more access to quality coaching at the grassroots level? Forgive me for spotting that we run fewer courses than the likes of Germany and Spain (who we are trying to catch) in both terms of qualified coaches and footballing hierarchy and who we should surely consider as part of our peer group if we are to take coaching progression seriously? You don’t need to be DI Barnaby to discover ‘our’ courses are also costlier by a huge margin. E.g. UEFA ‘A’ licence in the UK circa £6,000 while in Spain you’ll only have to invest circa £1,000 albeit in bovine free Euros. Is every course being taxed to pay for SGP and all those tracky bums? Perhaps it’s also funding a new site which is actually located somewhere in the UK, as SGP isn’t. According to my SatNav and the last two visits I made, it is on another parallel between space – time and Stoke.
The costs are truly inhibitive when you get to level 3&4 (UEFA A and B). So even at this stage, we are by default channelling a greater percentage of wealthier individuals with time on their hands (ring any bells?) into the ability pot. And if that wasn’t clear enough the FA prioritise and offer a fast track training for elite professional players. In so reducing capacity for regular people to attend these courses.
Why would anyone fast track people who are in most need of detoxification from a failing system? Doesn’t this systematic pseudo-nepotistic injection of broken footballing DNA mean that we are removing innovation and diversity from the game at all entry points? Judging by the vanilla flavoured faeces being offered up in the name of elite coaching, I would suggest we may have hit the proverbial nail, in that footballers don’t necessarily make the best football coaches.
Golly gosh I’ve gone and done it now. Far be it from me to suggest that professional footballers make poor coaches or managers because that isn’t the case. But I am willing to suggest that many professional footballers do their badges because they don’t have anything else feasible lined up come the twilight of their playing career, as opposed to truly wanting to go into developing people and the quality of English football. It’s not so hard for the FA to add a touch of decorum into proceedings and think about the talents required to coach and manage people, and go from there in building capacity for talented individuals who aren’t already in the game?
Please also note the historical methodology which has realised this glittering current crop that has failed utterly in providing quality at the highest levels, also ensures that this ‘are you actually trying?’ group of bang average coaches sit on a constantly revolving carousel which deposits them into the decent jobs irrespective of the results they achieved in their last role, it would appear. God only knows how many chances some of these guys are going to get being paid huge sums of money to fail miserably, again.
If that weren’t bad enough the supervisory or mentoring element of higher tier coaching was formerly delivered by those people who were proud to turn out tactical long ball masterclasses who were unable to get their heads around Futsal let alone know how to spell it. Thankfully the FA decided to let some of these individuals find their happiness elsewhere.
Surely there are more drivers and indicators that foretell the potential of an individual to coach, mentor, lead, strategise and communicate in the football arena?
Moreover, without reaching for the Prozac too early doors, why does the football industry make it so hard for non-footballing talent to contribute or even just get involved? Nearly every other industry proactively reaches out into other sectors to draw on knowledge and talent that can be used to uplift the quality of systems, processes and even human resource.
Given the FA’s track record of unconscious incompetence and assuming that most of their bad decision making has been more cock-up than conspiracy in nature, it is a twisted irony then; that they have created an ongoing role for themselves? After all facilitating the conditions for the perfect storm only to provide the supporting umbrella keeps the FA in situ and perceived as a needed resource.
I concede that the FA has a strong and extensive education programme which is the envy of many rival associations and that numerous changes that have been made post ‘Future Game Initiative’ can only be effectively measured in years to come.
Equally, I don’t believe the Premier League, its member clubs or the FA fail to see the importance of high-quality coaching from the grassroots level, it just looks like they have more than enough resource to make an impactful change but can’t be arsed to do the right thing and collaborate on the best deployable mix.
What I am sure of, is that there are many talented people looking in from the outside with a plethora of transferrable skills that could add real value to the system and improve the quality of the coaching players receive from grassroots all the way up to the elite echelon.
What I am also sure of is that unless we do inject a new type of talent the status quo will remain as every process is perfectly designed to realise the result it achieves.
Where and when is my next Level 1 course?