‘in danger of losing his legacy’
Sir Trevor Brooking, the Football Association’s director of football development, has finally given up on his ambition to control all aspects of coaching, even in professional clubs’ academies.
At a two-day conference this week, hosted by the FA and involving both leagues, the managers’ and players’ unions and several clubs’ academy heads, there was at last broad agreement on how to proceed with youth development. The FA will now concentrate on training coaches, developing grassroots players and offering support for international players. One insider said: “Alex Horne [Brooking’s boss as FA general secretary] has pulled Trevor round by telling him he was in danger of losing his legacy.”
Beyond Wembley, most stakeholders in the game agree that the recent years of impasse in the FA’s football development have been down to Brooking’s unworkable desire to control all aspects of youth development, even in club academies. Indeed, even the FA’s former chairman, Lord Triesman, told a parliamentary committee investigating England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008 two years ago: “We haven’t done as well as we could have [in player development] and we’ve got to shoulder our part of the responsibility.”
Despite Brooking’s seven years in the post, the FA has a lamentable record in producing coaches, with only one Uefa-qualified coach for every 812 registered players. The world and European champions, Spain, have one for every 17. With everyone on the same page now, perhaps that can change.