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FCA Ambassador Ernie Merrick on being a football coach

The players must have clarity in their roles and a belief in the formations and structures being implemented by the Head Coach.

As often stated, there are only two types of coaches in football – “those that are sacked or those about to be sacked”.  Such is the emotional nature of the sport and the insecurity of the role.

It seems that, in most football clubs, negative short-term results determine the employment status of the coach. How much time are the club Board prepared to allow the Head Coach to build a team for the future?

Football can be simplified and defined as a team invasion game. The objective is to invade territory to an area where goal-scoring is possible. The players must have clarity in their roles and a belief in the formations and structures being implemented by the Head Coach.

A major failure of any player is not being involved in the invasion. Penetration through forward passes and movement is critical and everyone needs to play their part. FEAR is the foremost inhibitor of performance.

There is no doubt, that the noise from the critical and emotional minority affects decisions regarding short-term results – wins or losses.  Logic and reason would favour a coach who strategically plans and implements developmental processes which will deliver sustained success over time. Sir Alex Ferguson won Manchester United’s first EPL Premiership after 7 years and went on to win 13 EPL Championships and 17 other trophies.

The ultimate aim of the coach is to find the line between luck and skill and shift it. Luck plays a role but the implementation of programs that develop skilled technique, tactical decision-making, strategic awareness and game plan execution will grow the club and achieve continued success in the longer term. The Head Coach focuses on the TEAM, however, management is about INDIVIDUALS.

The modern professional game requires expert staff comprised of coaches and service providers to cover all aspects of player development – technical, tactical, physical, mental and personal skills. The Head Coach/Manager must demonstrate that he is able to coordinate the staff and drive change with a clear vision of the processes involved. He must be capable of planning a comprehensive holistic program and develop relationship skills that encourages staff and player buy-in and a willingness to be accountable.

The Head Coach must demonstrate competence in:

  • Enlisting support staff with qualifications, experience and education skills
  • Targeting the recruitment of players who fit specific profiles within the team game plan who have the necessary skill set combined with the right mindset and resilience
  • Implementing a program which clearly defines his coaching philosophy
  • Designing an attacking Game Model that will provide the best opportunity for success
  • Encouraging a brand of football that excites the crowds and makes them feel part of the game
  • Providing the club fans via the media with club driven news and team information

Poor results in the early stages of the coach appointment is not unusual but has to be managed and conciliated. Providing honest relevant information which accepts and identifies problematic issues and a club perspective on how matters will be resolved is always helpful.

Winning teams embrace pressure and the weight of high expectation.

The key to long term success is managing failure and learning from it.

As Einstein states – “Failure is success in progress.” [That’s Jimmy Einstein from Glasgow not Albert].

The Football Coaching Life with Trevor Morgan: “Put the player first and have empathy for their situation”

Gary Cole
The latest episode of The Football Coaching Life with Gary Cole, presented by Football Coaches Australia, sees Gary sitting down with the current Football Australia National Technical Director and Australian Mens U17s (Joeys) Head Coach, Trevor Morgan.

Morgan has been a well-entrenched figure within the youth development setup in Australia football over the past few decades, having been the Director of Football at Westfield Sports High and the National Youth League Head Coach for the Western Sydney Wanderers prior to taking on his current roles since 2018 and 2020 respectively.

Morgan led the Joeys to the knockout stages of the FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil in 2019, and has remained in that role ever since.

Trevor Morgan’s ‘One Piece of Wisdom’ for aspiring coaches was: “Pay attention to what the player needs, don’t make it too complex, try and observe as much as you impart knowledge, put the player first and have empathy for their situation, think about what motivates and challenges them.”

Please join us in sharing Trevor Morgan’s Football Coaching Life.

Football Australia pilots FIFA Coach Education Development Pathway Program

17 of Australia’s emerging coaches have converged on Sydney this week to participate in a joint FIFA-Football Australia Coach Educators’ Development Pathway Program.

Football Australia was one of five Member Associations selected by FIFA to run this pilot program, focusing on the development of home-grown coach educators through 150 hours of theory and practical learning linked to the fundamental coach educator’s competence, which will ultimately lead to graduates supporting Football Australia and Member Federations to develop more qualified coaches.

Commencing in November 2021, selected participants from the Australian football community embarked on this 12-month program featuring 40 online modules, with this five-day (2–6 May) in-person element providing the opportunity to deliver sessions in the classroom and on-pitch, enabling attending FIFA and Football Australia technical experts to guide and provide feedback.

Leading this week’s in-person modules are FIFA experts Branimir Ujevic (FIFA Head of Coaching & Player Development), Dany Ryser (FIFA Technical Expert and current U17 Men’s Switzerland Head Coach) and Mohamed Basir (FIFA Senior Manager, Coaching Development Department).

Joining them are Trevor Morgan (National Technical Director & U17 Men’s Head Coach), Rae Dower (Women’s Technical Advisor & U17 Women’s Head Coach) and Ron Smith (Technical Consultant) from Football Australia.

Australia joins Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and the United States in being selected to roll-out this pilot program, which Trevor Morgan acknowledges is a nod to the ongoing work of Football Australia and the Member Federations in the development of coaches at all levels.

“Football Australia is looking to evolve coach and player development and participating in this coach educators’ pathway program, as developed by and delivered in collaboration with FIFA, will enable Australian coaches to get a head start on this new program which will be implemented the world over in the coming years,” Morgan said.

“In this program, FIFA brings a certain methodology, a pathway to follow step by step, and the necessary tools for the current course participants – and ultimately coach education instructors – to perform as effectively as possible.

“If Australian football can develop and grow a pool of highly skilled coach educators in all parts of the country, the multiplier effect this will have on not only on coach development but in delivering elite player training, will have a huge impact on both the volume and quality of footballers we produce as a nation.”

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