Football: PFA threatens coaching revolution: Taylor scandalised by lack of teaching opportunities for former professionals

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The Independent Online
GORDON TAYLOR warned yesterday that if the Football Association did not begin using the experience of former players, the Professional Footballers' Association would consider setting up its own coaching structure aimed at putting the emphasis on skill and technique in the English game.

'I believe in evolution rather than revolution. But it may come down to that if they don't listen to us,' the PFA's chief executive said. 'It's a scandal how so few former players have been employed by the FA to teach skills and excellence. There have been literally hundreds over the years who should have had an input.'

Taylor said he was embarrassed and frustrated by the prospect of England not qualifying for the World Cup finals in the United States next summer, while countries like Norway, Greece and Switzerland made it. The response to such failure, he suggested, would be 'tin hats on, heads down and replace the manager, instead of taking steps to put things right'.

'Our players have some tremendous qualities but there is not enough skill and technique at the highest level,' Taylor said. 'We are too much of a sweatshop and not enough of a fashion parade at the front of the shop. Hitting the long ball to put the opposition defence under pressure surely can't be the only way of playing the game.'

Taylor, who was at the Central Council of Physical Recreation's annual conference at Bosworth Hall in Warwickshire, claimed there was an 'amateur ethos' to English coaching. He added it took just a week to obtain a preliminary FA coaching badge and a fortnight for a full badge. In Italy it was six months and in Germany a year.

'We need professional courses by professionals for professionals,' he said. 'Players want to stay in the game and spend the time passing on what they have learned. It would be a mammoth task setting up our own coaching system but we may be getting to that stage if we are going to qualify for future World Cups.'

The FA's director of coaching and education, Charles Hughes, countered Taylor's argument by pointing out that plenty of ex-players are involved in coaching schemes around the country. 'We run a programme of excellence for nine to 16-year-olds. There are 146 centres in that scheme and 85 of the directors are ex-professionals,' he said.

Taylor is due to join Hughes and representatives of the Premier League and Football League at a committee meeting of the Football Forum for Educational and Vocational Training in a fortnight's time.

'If Gordon Taylor feels this strongly, he has three 'partners' to whom he could have addressed his remarks first,' he said. 'He's talking about professionals and that's what professional people would do.'

On the threat of a PFA coaching scheme, Hughes made it clear: 'We are not responding to the threat of blackmail.'

Hughes said he would share a lot of common ground with Taylor, including improving and extending the coaching badge demands. 'I'd support that and he knows that we support that.'

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