The Technician is the official UEFA publication that aims to see the game through the eyes of a coach – and in the latest edition it looks at the combination of educational and formative factors which, given time, can end up producing coaching success.
In his editorial column Andy Roxburgh charts the coaching journeys of two trainers who, at first glance, would appear to have achieved meteoric success. However, neither José Mourinho nor Josep Guardiola took a fast track to the top of the football management game.
The UEFA technical director tells how Mourinho was already able to mine rich seams of know-how and expertise by the time he took charge of FC Porto, aged 39. Guardiola followed a different route to the peaks he has attained as a coach, yet, like Mourinho, he did not get there overnight. According to Andy Roxburgh: "The road to coaching stardom takes years of dedication, experience and learning. Some talented coaches, such as José and Pep, simply sparkle earlier than others."
UEFA has had privileged access to Europe's elite coaches for more than a decade, with these leading practitioners of the technical arts making valued contributions across many areas, including the Elite Club Coaches Forum and the final tournament technical reports.
One by-product of this collaboration is a stock of comments and quotations, the best of which The Technician now compiles into a special feature entitled 'Football philosophers'. UEFA Champions League final opponents Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho are just two of the coaching oracles consulted.
The team behind the team, as a coach's back-room staff is often called, is an increasingly heralded concept in top-class football. May's edition of The Technician puts particular emphasis on the job of the team doctor and the importance of their relationship with the coach. The article 'Organising the back room' picks up on points raised during the UEFA Medical Symposium in Stockholm earlier this year, and comes to the conclusion that: "The modern coach has to be prepared to take on board performance-indicating information when it comes to making his team selection."
UEFA's official newsletter for coaches also asks what it means – in real and practical terms – to 'read the game'. With players, it most often denotes an ability to locate opponents and team-mates, and to detect spaces and exploit them with passes and runs. Yet anticipation and positional play are hardly definitive aspects of a coach, referee, commentator or even newspaper reporter's brief, and they too must be able to read the game. The Technician explains all.
In addition, issue No46 explores the true meaning of national-team football. On the one hand the major international tournaments have become catch-all events which, according to Andy Roxburgh, "not only reconfirm the sporting value of national team football but also demonstrate the public's commitment to the international game and their desire to express a national identity through their team".
On the other hand, however, the globalisation of club football presents a challenge to developing and maintaining a national football identity within an association. Here, we read, coach education and player development will have a crucial role to fulfil.
For those itching to get back on to the training ground, meanwhile, FC Videoton and former Hungary coach György Mezey devises a routine that fuses technical, tactical and fitness elements into an exercise in finishing.
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