Kevin De Bruyne was once dubbed “the modern Cruyff”’ by his under-21 manager at Genk and it was Johan Cruyff who said: “Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.” MORE
My favourite coaching sessions
Former professional footballer who made over 540 senior appearances for 21 different clubs, scoring 116 goals, in a career spanning 17 years tells Dave Clarke about his favourite training sessions.
“I played for many sides over 17 years as a pro, but my time under Paul Ince at MK Dons stands out in terms of a dedicated way of training. Ince always focused on some of the most intense warm-up sessions I can remember, with fitness drills and speed work leading on to tight passing games and small-sided matches.
“For me, there is no substitute for doing training at the same tempo as you would play matches. If you do five days of high-tempo stuff during the week you feel sharper and ready as a player on a Saturday afternoon.
“I know many professionals feel that doing hours and hours of tactical and shape work can drain the confidence levels a bit. Coaches need to find the right balance… some do, some don’t.
“But I truly believe that the most important thing for a manager is the mood and attitude he instils around the training ground. It is like any job in the sense that if a group of players are given tasks that are too developed or complicated, it starts to put doubts into their minds. Football outside the Premier League is quite simple at times and it’s all about hard work and using the ball well when in possession.
“And I think managers often over-complicate things when trying to develop youngsters. The coaching badges are all very nice but the danger is that they create clones – a number of managers adopting exactly the same techniques. Coaching is very much an individual thing, and we must be careful not to lose that edge.
“Ince, and my boss at Lincoln City, Steve Tilson, have always been themselves in management. And when you get praise from people like that it makes you want to give even more for the cause. After all, every player wants to be top dog!”