Youth = Gold



“2018 was a fantastic year for me on a personal level. The return to Liverpool was the best decision i could have possibly made. Working back in such a positive academy environment was so good for me after the adventure in Brazil. I will always be grateful to Alex Inglethorpe for his friendship and advice.

In June, I made the move to Rangers FC and I feel so privileged to have the experiences I’ve had over the past 6-7 months. My family is very happy in Scotland and we recently bought our new home in the countryside, with my children settled in school before the Christmas break.

I am very fortunate to have this opportunity at a truly great football club, alongside a fantastic group of coaching staff and players.

I am enjoying each moment and its a pleasure to drive into work each day”

The beginning of a new year, 2019 will see a new direction to my coaching blog.

I want to continue blogging about coaching as i think it is important that we share ideas and experiences together as a coaching community.  This enables us to gain valuable feedback and grow the game together for the enjoyment of the players that we work with.

Therefore, I am going to commit to writing more often and will focus exclusively on youth player development.

The reason behind this decision is a simple one, I feel that we are currently in a coaching industry that is very much led by examples of senior coaches and their preferred tactical ideas about the game.

Like most, I enjoyed reading this content and also viewing the various analysis on the worlds top teams.

But…… for the development of our game, I feel that we must share more ideas on player development and how we can impact on the future of coaching and how children are taught the game.

“As a coach who is working at first team level now – after many years in youth development – I have gained more clarity in my thinking on player development and I would like to share these thoughts with other coaches”

The world’s top coaches are the fortunate ones, they receive players at full maturity (or very close to it) and are therefore applying tactics to enhance the qualities those players possess (as adults). The ones most lauded are again fortunate to be able to mould the tactics around players that have been acquired for millions of pounds in transfer fees.

The world those coaches exist in and the world the rest of us have in front of our eyes is often very different.

“Does this mean that we cannot learn from these coaches?

absolutely not, we can learn so much.

But……. in my opinion, youth coaches have a duty to understand the development of people and how to improve learning and technique rather than tactical structures/organisation.

Can the two be developed at the same time?

Yes………. and this is the skill of coaching. The blog will aim to discuss ideas on how to best teach the game and guide young players learning through the various age groups.

I think Sir Matt Busby had a lovely view on youth player development ……….


I believe “Youth = Gold” and that the future of our game is determined by how we teach it to our youngest players. That is a huge responsibility for coaches working with players in the primary and secondary school age groups.

How do we guide these children to be confident, have excellent self awareness and believe in themselves as people (1st) and then football players?

This subject fascinates me and I want to share those ideas and view points with you over the coming weeks/months ahead.

Best wishes to you all for 2019.



  1. I feel that in Scotland, in particular, the SFA have treated youth coaching as a slightly watered-down version of adult coaching. A typical SFA course is the coach educator probably starting with a welcome, short introduction, then by sharing knowledge based on subjectivity, either from their own experiences or the syllabus of the Association. Then probably a Power Point presentation by the affable coach educator. However, does the presentation have the appropriate information, does it have the appropriate context and structure? The coach educator gave some advice that may or may not be relevant. Some drills or practices are shown perhaps demonstrated and then a plenary session. Later you receive a coaching card you now consider yourself a competent, qualified coach. Is there anything wrong with this picture of this official introduction to coaching football?
    Instead of this subjective top-down coach education, surely the solution is to first educate coaches about how children learn that is teaching and learning and then the game in an objective and factual way. When the context of football is clear, coaches can come up with their own drills and subjective methods suited for their external factors. Instead of giving away drills and quick fixes to coaches, provide the coaches with an objective way of thinking about football. If coaches are taught objective knowledge about the game they will have the competence to design drills that suits their subjective environment and their playing style for the rest of their career.
    Uniformity and consistency in football language are needed to make knowledge about football transferable to others. Otherwise, there is an eminent risk that the course fails or succeeds due to the individual preference or expertise of the tutor. From a participant’s point of view, this may be subjective. By using a football theory as a foundation in every course, this limits the chance of subjectivity. There should be clear use of language and structure without misunderstandings.
    There is a big difference between how to coach adult players and youth players. It is not enough to simply “water down” or simplify adult courses. A coach who works with youth players must have some pedagogical qualities, therefore it is necessary to reflect this in course content. As is the practice in, Brazil, Germany and the Netherlands, to name a few, work in cooperation with universities, educationalists and other experts to validate and develop appropriate courses.
    At present, it is possible to gain SFA coaching qualifications without actually coaching a team. By attending and completing the courses satisfactorily the lower level qualifications can be achieved. Without seeing or assessing the coach in situ, how does he relate to the players, how does he keep the discipline of the players, how and why does he construct his sessions?
    I look forward to your blogs in 2019.
    Best wishes to you and you family.


    1. Love what your doing at the minute Mike, it’s great to see what you are doing at rangers. As a rangers fan I am delighted to see how fouced you are on youth development and structure. I feel its something we have lacked for a while. Iv been following your career for a while now (my older brother is a Liverpool fan) and I must say Iv been obsessed about football since day one but you’ve made me really start to think about it tactically and how we can teach the next gen, which is something I think we r some way behind, certainly in Scotland. Iv not long started doing coaching myself with my sons football team and with another two boys after him I look forward to helping them along the way also. Having read the previous comment about SFA coaching qualification I did find it a little simple to achieve it. Now I know at grassroots level we need volunteers to give up there time and coach the kids but during my course some of the people attending the course could bearly kick a ball or played the game at any level which for me isn’t ideal for the kids. I look forward to more tips and insights into the game to help me along the way. Thank you.


  2. At grass roots level i’m seeing lots of Coach Centred approaches to player development …….do this do that…..its a difficult task organising Foundation coaches to develop their own understanding of how players learn the game.
    Most do a basic level 1 course now & thats it !! No required CPD & a complete lack of investment where it really matters ……
    I suppose the answer is by working together we can change the environment ….small steps / a club vision & philosophy / build it & they will come approach ……..


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