Tuesday, January 6, 2009

English Coaches Should Learn Their Trade!

English Coaches Should Learn Their Trade!
Former West Ham and West Bromich Albion midfielder Peter Butler has been coaching for years in Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Yorkshireman believes that English coaches should learn the trade before taking top jobs whether they do so in the lower leagues or, following his example, in a different and challenging environment such as Asia.

The 42 year-old has a few ideas that he shared with me - over to you, Peter.

“At the moment we have so many managers getting jobs with so little experience of actually coaching and managing people and it bodes the question in the UK when we are constantly being scrutinized by our fellow European compatriots where are we going and where is this taking us long term?

I left England in 2001 to go to Australia to coach and more importantly learn my trade off my own back in an environment where personal fitness plays a big part. I was intrigued by not just the football set up but how a different country went about things from preparation diet etc (Aussie Rules / Rugby Union).

Not long after I arrived, Australian football went into a restructuring phase and the A-League was born with less teams. Basically, they were trying to take it to the next level to eventually compete with the top teams in Asia, as we speak the game is progressing slowly but nicely.

I learnt a great deal and continued to do so until I left and went to work in Asia. I jumped the gun perhaps but I knew Asian football was on the move. Breaking into Japan, China and Korea for a young coach from Halifax is not easy so I worked in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia at their respective highest levels. Now I am back in the Super League Malaysia.

I have worked in the region for seven to eight years. I have worked with difficult people, worked for high powered politicians with massive egos. But all my teams progressed either to cup finals and/or promotions. That is not why I did it. I did it to earn my stripes and learn my trade of coaching, managing players, managing difficult people, learning a new language, coaching in a different language.

This experience has been invaluable and something I would not change for the world because I chose to follow my career on a different path, a path where I can honestly say nobody gave me a job on the back of being his mate or ex team-mate.

My old friends in England tell me that I am crazy for coaching out here. But I ask them why? I have learnt more than I ever would have. I have experienced more, seen more, travelled more -I am a better coach than when I left. I am more experienced and wordly and more important I am a better person for it. It’s not all about chasing money!

My first day at West Ham United in 1991 was Harry Redknapp's first day as assistant manager to Billy Bonds.

It was Harry who was instrumental in giving me a chance there and I will never forget what he said to me. 'I have waited many years for this opportunity did the hard yards in the lower divisions and now i have got my chance at a club which is in my blood. I ain’t letting it go.' He is a great guy and I have never forgotten his words.

The late Ray Harford was the best coach that I worked with as a player. He once said to me: 'Peter when you finish playing, get out and coach and coach and coach. You’ll make mistakes as we all do but that’s how you learn. Licenses and fancy training grounds don’t make you a better coach - they help of course - but you don’t start learning to drive until after you have received your license.'

More and more clubs now are giving positions to ex- players with no or little coaching or managerial experience, they see a great player and think ‘he’ll make a good manager’.

But there is a huge difference between being a good player and being a good coach and manager. Harry was an excellent coach in his younger years as was Ray Harford. These people did it the hard way and did the hard jobs and worked their way up the ladder. It’s all about learning your trade you learn something new every day – that’s if you have a open mind and want to.

That’s the problem with the English game I have so much respect for the academy coaches and lads working at the lower levels of the football League. They put so much time in and do many jobs out coaching on cold winter evenings, producing our future players. Every weekend is busy but many of them will never get a chance further up the ladder because they are either not in the loop or don’t know the right people.

It makes me sad when I see some ex-international walk straight into a top job with no experience whatsoever. He takes his mates with him, gets sacked, makes a fortune then moves on again and does the same. Meanwhile, poor all Franky and Freddie at the Leyton Orients and Carlisles of this world don’t have a chance and are without doubt better coaches.

They should make it compulsory for coaches before they step into management to have three years coaching experience down in the football league before they make the step up.

Coming straight into it from playing is not, in my mind the right thing to do. Ideally, they should come and take a secondment attached to a Asian team for six months to see how they react when the President is sending little pieces of paper with the formation for the team in the second half, ringing you up on bench asking why have you not put this player on and done this etc.

That keeps you on your toes! You have to have nerves of steel to work in Asia. It isn’t all about nice beaches, Tom Yam soup and cold Bintang beer!"

No comments: