Europe's leading club coaches come to Nyon on Wednesday and Thursday for an annual summit with UEFA that contributes crucially to the European body's decision-making processes and activities – and gives the coaches an invaluable opportunity to talk together and exchange ideas away from their hectic everyday schedules.
The 13th UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum provides the chance for the continent's foremost club technicians to discuss the latest trends, as well as to express their views to UEFA on the major issues affecting top club football. In turn, UEFA listens to the coaches' opinions and has implemented certain proposals made as part of this essential dialogue. UEFA has taken many of these ideas on board in recent years in shaping its competitions, and welcomes the occasion to spend time with Europe's elite trainers in order to converse and to consider developments in coaching at football's summit.
A number of Europe's premier coaches have been invited and among those who have confirmed their attendance are: Josep Guardiola (FC Barcelona), Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United FC), André Villas-Boas (Chelsea FC), Arsène Wenger (Arsenal FC), Roy Hodgson (West Bromwich Albion FC), Rémi Garde (Olympique Lyonnais), Didier Deschamps (Olympique de Marseille), Massimiliano Allegri (AC Milan), Ralf Rangnick (FC Schalke 04), Thomas Schaaf (SV Werder Bremen), Frank de Boer (AFC Ajax), Jorge Jesus (SL Benfica), Felix Magath (VfL Wolfsburg), Vítor Pereira (FC Porto), Mircea Lucescu (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Unai Emery (Valencia CF), Thorsten Fink (FC Basel 1893) and Rudi Garcia (LOSC Lille Métropole).
The UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum was first held in 1999, and has become an annual fixture on the UEFA schedule at the start of each European season. "Through the forum we give the coaches the opportunity to exchange views away from the competitive environment," said UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh. "UEFA also receives information about our organisation and other elements connected in particular with the UEFA Champions League. We're able to use the feedback we get from the coaches at our coaching events and in technical reports. There is a multifaceted aspect to the forum – it's not just a simple gathering.
"At past meetings, the coaches have either confirmed things that UEFA is trying to introduce, or they have triggered things; the very fact, for example, that we have a Champions League ball came from this group – they thought there should be the one ball for a competition like this. The coaches focus on detail, they don't only just see the big picture. That kind of thinking is very helpful to us."
This year's assembly in Nyon will essentially focus on the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League, the European club game's blue-riband competition. Another session will deal with the importance of substitutions – which can often turn the course of a match – the reasons for them, when they can be made and the problems involved. "The issue of substitutions is crucial for a top manager," said Roxburgh.
Injury trends in the UEFA Champions League will also come under the spotlight, in particular their effects on performances and the factors which lead to them. A regular topic for discussion at the forum is the profile of the current-day coach in terms of the demands placed on them and their main duties.
The UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum also serves to give younger coaches the opportunity to listen and learn from experienced colleagues – and to get to know each professionally and personally. "When the coaches go into the European competitions, the relationship is different when they meet each other because they have been at our event," Roxburgh added. "There's a friendliness, rather than what might have been formality previously, because they've been able to meet and talk in such a context."
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