Carr put his name forward as a successor to Lyall
WHEN John Lyall was sacked by West Ham United back in the summer of 1989, youth team coach Tony Carr put his name forward as a successor.
“I did apply for the job and got an interview and sat before the board,” admitted Carr. “I don’t know how close I got, but the fact I got an interview suggests that maybe I got on the shortlist.”
Lou Macari was eventually appointed with disastrous results, but Carr is reflective about the boa-rd’s decision.
“I was close then, but maybe it just wasn’t to be. Under Billy Bonds and then Harry Redknapp, they said to me, they thought my best skills were with the youth team and so I agreed and they were probably right.”
As a player in the late sixties and early seventies, Carr was released by West Ham, and it is that experience that he uses when he has to break the same news to youngsters every year.
“I remember Ron Greenwood’s exact words to this day,” said Carr. “He said we have made you a pro footballer, but obviously we don’t feel that you are going to cut your trade here – you need to move on to further your career.
“I sometimes quote these things to the boys. I say to them, I’ve been through what you are going through. My dreams have been shattered, but I’m still in the game and I am testament to the fact that life goes on.”
So what are the qualities needed to be a successful youth team coach? Carr should know.
“I think you need patience, that’s the first thing,” he said. “I think when you get young players you don’t get the finished article, you get a rough diamond.
“Week by week, year by year you just try to tag on extras. Improve his vision, passing and control and his understanding.”
So are today’s recruits better than those of say, 20 years ago? Carr is not sure, but he does say that they are already more coached and that is not always a good thing.
“You mustn’t overcoach them, you have to let them develop and find their own way,” he said. “At a young age it is more guidance than coaching. You are pointing them in the right direction rather than telling them what to do.
“If you overcoach players what tends to happen is that they are too reliant on the coach when it comes to making decisions on the field. The best players make the right decisions most of the time and if they are always looking over to the bench asking what they have to do, it is no good.”
Carr has a trusted team under him at the Academy and unselfishly he is keen to trumpet their efforts for the cause.
“I’m head of the Academy and I run the under-18 team, but there is a group of people under me, who do fantastic jobs,” he insisted.
“Jimmy Hampson and Jimmy Tindle, the recruitment guys, who bring the players here in the first place and are second to none. Then I’ve got Paul Heffer who has been a trusted assistant to me for many, many years and done a terrific job.
“Then there is Nick Haycock and Jimmy Frith, all these sorts of people who have done great jobs and often go unsung.”
It seems to be quite a team.