Blessed are the decision-makers

Dario Gradi, the Crewe manager, wants emphasis on both body and mind
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The first thing we need to look at is the coaches themselves. We have to coach coaches better, and one of the ways to do that is to get professional players into coaching younger. I get players coming to me at 32 or so who are about to retire and they tell me they think they'll go into coaching. I say: "Have you done any coaching then?" Often they say no and I have to ask them what makes them think they would make a good coach.

It can take years to really understand what it's all about, and I'm not sure how many players want to devote themselves to it once they've stopped playing. The time to get people is when they're in their late twenties. My coach is 25 - I persuaded him to give up playing non-League football to come here. I myself was coaching when I was 18.

I'd like to see the Professional Footballers' Association taking a lead with this. They should be running courses for players to learn about coaching while they're still in the game. If players could go and spend a day a week for six weeks with Don Howe, say, that would be a start. I'd have no objection to letting any of my players do that.

No matter how good a player you've been, it doesn't qualify you to teach youngsters, and that's the most important thing. It's not easy teaching a 12-year-old. You have to know what you're doing, and it's quite different from teaching someone who's 18. An ex-player of mine was talking to me only this week. He's played to a high level and now he wants to go into coaching. I asked him whether he was going to teach at his club's school of excellence. He said he wasn't interested in working with kids - he was looking to going straight into management. Which is fine, but that's not what we're talking about.

First and foremost, a coach needs to know his job. You can't get it out of a book. You have to have played to a certain level. I'd have thought semi-professional at least. In fact, coaches probably ought to pass an ability test to demonstrate they can play. If someone can't do it because they've got a wonky knee, then they should have done the course before getting it! Then you have to have the ability to teach. That means being able to organise and having a structured mind.

There's no doubt that courses for would-be coaches have improved. You used to be able to get your badge in a week. Now you've got to learn about anatomy, diet, sports psychology, the whole theory of coaching. It's much better for that.

What I do know is that a lot of coaches find it hard to get their players to do what they want them to. I think at the highest level in this country the players don't particularly want to be coached. I don't know whose fault it is. I wouldn't have thought Terry Venables or George Graham has that problem, but if you're not the manager and not picking the team it can be difficult.

There's no doubt the rise of the schools of excellence has been the most significant development of the last 10 years. Skilful players are beginning to come through. Technical standards could be higher and the brainwork better. I don't think we've really tackled that problem - the decision- making, which is the major part of the game. You're making more decisions than you're having touches. And if you're getting those wrong you're not a very good player no matter what you can do with the ball. Boys tend to become robotic. We've got to get them not just to learn the skills but to know when to apply them.

Interview by Simon O'Hagan

State of play: The A-Z of Premiership training

Arsenal

No of teams: 4 (first team, reserves, youth and women) plus age-group teams down to under-13. Beneath that not competitive matches.

No of coaches: 7 full-time (including physios), part-time goalkeeping. Also, four full-time at Highbury community centre. Six part-time for age groups.

Training facilities: Sports hall at Highbury plus seven pitches rented from London University at London Colney, Herts. Changing-rooms recently burned down; players change at local hotel. Plans to buy land and build own complex at an early stage.

Aston Villa

No of teams: 3 full-time (first team, reserves, youth) plus under-21 to under-12.

No of coaches: 10 (including physios, kit manager, chief scout and youth development officer) plus 14 part-time for age-level teams.

Facilities: Own complex, built 1972, at Bodymoor Heath, near Sutton Coldfield, upgraded 18 months ago at a cost of pounds 500,000. Comprises four pitches, all-weather pitch and gym as well as four dressing-rooms, weights and fitness room, conference and dining facilities.

Blackburn Rovers

No of teams: 4 (first team, reserve team, A team and B, youth, team). Plus school of excellence teams.

No of coaches: 3 (first team reserve team and youth team). Plus part- time for age-group teams.

Facilities: Recently constructed purpose-built training centre at Brockhall Village, 10 miles from Ewood Park. Comprises outdoor pitches, artificial pitches, gyms and other facilities.

Chelsea

No of teams: 3 (first team, reserves, youth) plus at all age groups from 16 to 10.

No of coaches: 7 full-time (including goalkeeping and fitness coaches). Three full-time physios and full-time kit manager.

Part-time for age-group teams. Two or three part-time at each of four centres of excellence.

Facilities: Complex at Harlington, near Heathrow Airport, rented from Imperial College. pounds 170,000 spent on upgrading three pitches (have use of eight) and building rehabilitation centre and improving dressing-rooms and canteen.

Coventry City

No of teams: 3 (first team, reserves, youth) plus school of excellence for under-13s.

No of coaches: 5 full-time (three first team, 1 reserves, 1 youth) plus part-time for age-group teams.

Facilities: Ryton-on-Dunsmore, 5 miles south of city centre, owned by the club and built in 1990. Two pitches, plus clubhouse housing gym, canteen, medical room. Also, a hostel for 16 trainees.

Derby County

No of teams: 3 (first team, reserves, youth) plus centre of excellence junior teams from

under-9 to under-16.

No of coaches: Five full-time (first-team coach, reserve-team coach, two youth-team coaches, director of schools football). Each of the seven

junior teams has own part-time coach.

Facilities: Training ground and centre of excellence three miles from

Baseball Ground, comprising one full-size pitch, "other grassy areas", and a gymnasium. Pitches hired from Rolls-Royce for youth and junior matches.

Everton

No of teams: 4 (first team, reserves, youth and junior youth) plus age- group teams from 16 to 12 run from the centre of excellence.

No of coaches: 6 full-time (2 first team, including manager, reserve and 3 youth coaches) plus part-time for age-group teams.

Facilities: Bellefield, owned by the club, comprising two pitches, indoor gym, offices, medical and catering, for first team and reserves. Also Netherton, for youths, now being developed for a centre of excellence to include a hostel.

Leeds United

No of teams: 3 (first team, reserves and youth team). Plus school of excellence teams.

No of coaches: 4 (first team, reserve team, and two youth coaches). Plus part-time goalkeeper coach. Plus part-time for age-group teams.

Facilities: New complex, including grass pitches, floodlit, Astroturf pitch, gym and youth players' hostel at Thorp Arch, near Wetherby.

Leicester City

No of teams: 3 (first team, reserve team and youth team). Plus school of excellence teams.

No of coaches: 5 (first team, reserve team coach, youth development officer and two youth team coaches). Plus part-time for age-group teams. Facilities: Belvoir Drive training ground, half a mile from Filbert Street. Three pitches and indoor facilities.

Liverpool

No of teams: 4 (first team, reserves, youth A team, youth B team) plus centre of excellence junior teams under-10 to under-16.

No of coaches: 5 full-time (first-team assistant manager and coach, reserve team coach, director of youth, coach for youth A team) and 15 part-time.

Facilities: Melwood training ground, four miles from Anfield, including four full-sized pitches (one artificial), rehabilitation unit and medical centre. Plans for additional centre, four times size of Melwood with residential facilities for projected Liverpool Academy.

Manchester United

No of teams: 4 (first team, reserves, youth A team and B team). Team, drawn from members of both the A and B youth teams, plays in youth cup. Centre of excellence from under-10 to under-16.

No of coaches: 6 full-time (first team, reserves, three youth team, director of centre of excellence). 10 part-time.

Facilities: The Cliff, in Salford, four miles from Old Trafford - one full-size pitch, smaller grass training area, and indoor pitch. Five pitches at nearby Littleton Road. Plans for $10m, 100-acre training ground south of city.

Middlesbrough

No of teams: 4 (first team, reserves, A team and youth team). Also junior teams up to under-16.

No of coaches: 4 (first team, reserve team, youth team, A team). Plus goalkeeper coach, four youth development coaches and part-time coaches for age-group teams.

Facilities: Tollsby Road youth ground at Acklam, three miles from Riverside Stadium. Also use Kirklevington open prison. Planning new complex at Hurworth, Darlington.

Newcastle United

No of teams: 3 (first team, reserves, play only occasional friendlies after the club's withdrawal from the Pontin's League, and youth team). Also school of excellence teams.

No of coaches: 4 (first team, reserve, youth team and director of youth development). Plus part-time defence and goalkeeping coaches. Plus part-time for age-group teams.

Facilities: Use Durham University sports centre. Plan to build own complex on the outskirts of Newcastle.

Nottingham Forest

No of teams: 4 (first team, reserves, under-21s, youth team) plus centre of excellence junior teams from under-9 to under-16

No of coaches: 7 full-time (first team, reserves, under-21s, youth team, director and assistant of youth coaching, fitness coach). Part-time manager and assistant for each junior team. Six additional part-time coaches run two centres of excellence.

Facilities: Training ground and centre of excellence adjoins City Ground. Comprises four full-size and four small pitches and small indoor artificial pitch.

Sheffield Wednesday

No of teams: 3 (first team, reserve team and juniors). Plus school of excellence teams.

No of coaches: 8 (first team, two reserve team, three youth team, fitness coach and goalkeeper coach). Plus part-time for age-group teams.

Facilities: Own training ground near Hillsborough. Has grass pitches, floodlit all-weather pitch. Gym and weights room at Hillsborough.

Southampton

No of teams: 3 (first-team, reserves, youth team) plus centre of excellence junior teams for each year from under-13 to under-16.

No of coaches: 7 full-time (assistant manager, fitness, reserve, youth team, scouting, youth development, head of football in community) and 7 part-time.

Facilities: Training ground at Marchwood, six miles from Southampton - two full-size pitches and two smaller areas. Gym at The Dell, three centres of excellence for 9- to 16-year-olds, at The Dell, Slough and Bath, each comprising an indoor sports hall.

Sunderland

No of teams: 3 (first team, reserves, youths). Plus centre of excellence teams.

No of coaches: 4 (head coach, reserve team, youth, director of youth). Also director of youth and part-time goalkeeper coach. Plus part-time for age-group teams.

Facilities: Charlie Hurley Centre, training pitches and pavilion at Whitburn, three miles from Roker Park. Named after Sunderland captain of the 1960s.

Tottenham Hotspur

No of teams: 4 (first team, reserves and only club with two youth teams in South-East Counties League). Under-13 to under-15. Occasional games for under-16 and under-21.

No of coaches: 6 full time (two first team, one reserves, two youth, one schoolboy/centre of excellence). Part-time coaches for each age group. One part-time senior goalkeeping coach, one for schoolboys.

Facilities: New purpose-built ground at Chigwell, Essex. 5 pitches, plus clubhouse. Indoor, astroturfed gym at White Hart Lane.

West Ham United

No of teams: 3 full-time (first team, reserves, youth), plus seven down to under-12 level.

No of coaches: 5 full time (excluding physio and kit manager) and between 20 and 30 part-time at schools' centre of excellence open five days a week.

Facilities: Chadwell Heath, Essex, bought from the Glaxo company in 1991. Comprises four pitches, one floodlit, two five-a-side concrete pitches plus indoor hall, along with weights and medical rooms.

Wimbledon

No of teams: 3 (first team, reserves, youth), plus teams at under-16 to under-14 run from centres of excellence in Kent, Walthamstow and Wimbledon. Also, down to under-9 for training.

No of coaches: 4 full-time, plus part-time for age-group teams.

Facilities: 4 pitches leased from Wimbledon and Putney Conservative Association at Roehampton Vale, south- west London. Includes use of rehabilitation room.

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