Sir Alex Ferguson's words of advice to coaches at a recent coach education event are highlighted in the latest edition of the official UEFA publication UEFA•technician.
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Words of wisdom from Sir Alex Ferguson take pride of place in the latest edition of UEFA's official coaching publication UEFA•technician.
The legendary Manchester United FC manager, who retired this year after an outstanding career which brought him respect and recognition across the globe, gives a revealing insight into the coaching profession and how coaches should be prepared for their challenging profession.
Sir Alex – a collector of trophies galore with United and a winner of the European Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen FC in 1983 – was a special guest at the recent UEFA Coach Education workshop in Budapest. UEFA•technician carries extracts from his on-stage comments, which offered participants a comprehensive overview of the thoughts, ideas and visions gleaned from some four decades as a motivator of players and teams.
The importance of learning the coaching trade at lower or grassroots levels, rather than immediately being pitched into a high-level job, can never be underestimated. "I'm totally against fast-tracking because you're not doing a coach any favours at all," said Sir Alex. "It's a results industry; if you aren't winning games, you're out, so the preparation that your coaching badges can give you is very important ... If top players think they should receive special treatment, or if they have a vanity about them, maybe they shouldn't go into coaching."
Sir Alex urges coaches setting out on careers to listen to and learn from their elders to gain experience and wisdom. "It is important to listen to older people. I realised that when I was an apprentice toolmaker. Learning from the older toolmakers, even in a different job perspective altogether, was fabulous. I loved it. So I believe it's imperative that an older coach should impart whatever knowledge he can."
To those responsible for coach education – a job in which well-trained coaches aim to breed good footballers – Sir Alex imparts solid advice. "It's about developing young people and footballers to be better. It's not always about educating them like a history teacher. Sometimes it's about inspiring them to be the best they can be. It's about developing players as human beings."
"Sir Alex is leading by example," says UEFA chief technical officer Ioan Lupescu in his editorial column. "Retirement has opened greater space in his diary and he has immediately demonstrated his readiness to invest time in sharing his wisdom with his colleagues in the coaching profession, firstly by agreeing to chair UEFA's annual forum for elite club coaches, and secondly by joining representatives from UEFA's 54 member associations in Budapest. On the field and off it, Sir Alex has achieved role-model status."
The UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum which Sir Alex is now chairing is also featured in the latest UEFA•technician. This summit of Europe's leading club coaches, with an agenda centring on the state of the elite game from a technical and tactical point of view, always throws up fascinating ideas and proposals.
For example, the 2013 forum debated why the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League saw the highest-ever goal-per-game average (2.94) – an increase also witnessed in the vast majority of top European leagues. Talk was of greater emphasis being placed on attacking in training and preparation, a change of mentality in coaches – from reactive to proactive – and improvement in the quality of pitches, which encouraged positive possession football. This development can only benefit the competition as a thrilling spectacle for fans in the stadium and in front of their television sets.
October's tenth Coach Education Workshop is also covered in detail. In line with the theme of the event – Raising the Bar – this essential part of UEFA's coaching calendar again produced a wealth of opinions and viewpoints, all expressed with the objective of moving coaching and coach education forward in an ever-changing environment.
"We have seen the benefits of developing coaching at all levels," said Lupescu in Budapest. "So we need to focus on continually raising the bar in terms of coaching and, in consequence, the education of coaches. If our aim is to develop better players, we must also develop better coaches and better coach educators."
UEFA•technician remains an informative read for those with coaching and football's well-being at heart.