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You’ve got to understand the individual player and find out what makes them tick. As the generations go by, the characteristics of players change a little bit, and the personalities change a little bit because the world does. Socially, that’s just how it is. So, I think you really have to understand that and be able to deal with that. 

I wouldn’t say there is a set way to coach. Coaching is finding out about the individual and trying to get within a distance where there’s still a barrier but close enough to have their trust and respect.  

Willingness to learn for players is key. So as the coach, you need to be able to push the right buttons at the right time.  


Because I’ve gone through experiences as a player, it’s easy to revert to what I was like in certain situations. However, that doesn’t necessarily fit with the player in that situation now. So sometimes, that first thought of “what did I do” or “what did the manager say to me” is not necessarily the right thing at that time. That’s probably the biggest challenge I’ve found because certain individuals are different, and the game has changed. 

JUMP TO:
Carrick (pictured left) on the training ground with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The former midfielder transitioned to coaching in 2018 after he finished his playing career. Image: Paul Currie/BPI/REX.
Carrick (pictured left) on the training ground with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The former midfielder transitioned to coaching in 2018 after he finished his playing career. Image: Paul Currie/BPI/REX.
Manchester United coaching staff in discussion on matchday. Each coach is empowered to input their opinion. Image: Ian Tuttle/BPI/REX.
Manchester United coaching staff in discussion on matchday. Each coach is empowered to input their opinion. Image: Ian Tuttle/BPI/REX.

When my kids see me on the bench on matchday, they say: “Dad, do you actually do anything? Because it looks like you’re not doing anything”. But I’m quite calm. I’m not one that jumps about and gets too over excited, but inside I’m obviously desperate to win.  

I played like that in some ways. Where inside, you have that stubbornness and a real drive, but on the outside, it all seems quite calm and sometimes emotionless – until we score a goal or something that triggers me. Mostly I’m more focused on the details and putting the right things in place.  

As a player, I didn’t get so high or down so much. It was trying to keep level. I think it’s important as a coach and as a manager to try and do that and to try and help the players be the same. 

 

Clear observational focus

Spaces to attack is really my main focus when watching the games. Whether that’s looking at: how to attack when the goalkeeper has the ball, where the space is and how we can build-up through the pitch. It’s also about having an idea of how we can hurt the opposition from all areas of the pitch. That’s my first thought, really. My instinct takes me to that. Within that, there is observing the general game: how the opposition set up and what their strengths are.

Having a clear observational focus on matchday can inform effective feedback Image: Matt West/BPI/REX.
Having a clear observational focus on matchday can inform effective feedback Image: Matt West/BPI/REX.

Learn from others, but be yourself

I think all the managers and coaches I’ve worked with have had an impact and in different ways. Obviously, Sir Alex Ferguson, you don’t need me to speak too much about him. He’s the best around. Louis van Gaal was fantastic technically and tactically. How he saw the game was very different to Sir Alex, so I learned an awful lot from him.  

Being close to Jose Mourinho – that was my first experience of coaching and seeing how he works and sees the game. It makes you realise that is three of the top managers and coaches of all time and they had very different views on certain situations.  

It has definitely had an influence on me, but I think you are what you are. I’m not sure you choose. Your instincts tell you what you like and what you don’t like. Then you learn and try to figure it out from there and make the best of it.  

 

Article image courtesy of Kieran McManus/BPI/REX.