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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 December 2006, 10:51 GMT
Coaching conundrum
By Andrew McKenzie

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate
Southgate has been allowed to manage without the Pro Licence

"In appointing Gareth Southgate, Middlesbrough were fully aware that as our rules stand it is a necessity to have the Uefa Pro Licence or equivalent to manage in the Premier League."

Those were the Premier League's words back in June - but six months on Southgate has been granted special dispensation to carry on as Middlesbrough boss.

Glenn Roeder of Newcastle is also managing in the Premiership without the qualification.

Uefa's technical director Andy Roxburgh explained to BBC Sport the need for the Pro Licence - and why this scenario does not happen on the continent.


There is a culture in places like Spain, France, Italy and Holland that you cannot go straight from the playing pitch to the bench.

This is not just about a badge - I laugh that in England they use this term badge.

In Europe they view it is as a profession. That is the trouble in England - coaching has never really been accepted by those in authority as a profession.

You need to be trained for it - it is not enough that you score 20 goals for a Premiership team. The correlation between a great player and a great coach is not high.

I have dealt with players who were superstars as players who came on coaching courses and couldn't handle it. Some of them even gave up because they could not do it.

If that guy goes straight from the pitch to management because he is a famous name and will bring in a few more fans, and then he is a disaster it is too big a risk.

It is a risk for the club but I worry more about the guy himself because then it damages his reputation.


In olden days people were great managers but they often couldn't coach, but then coaching wasn't so widespread.

Now the problem is that you face a continental side that is as organised as you and they might be way ahead of you in terms of coaching their team.

Because British teams were very successful in the 1970s and 80s - there was that kind of attitude that we introduced the game to the world so should know better.

It is a fact that the last Englishman to win the league was Howard Wilkinson in 1992 - before the Premiership started.

It could be because the top clubs and not limiting themselves to the English market - it's not to say an English coach at one of those top clubs couldn't win the title.

But the fact they are picking from a wider market means they are picking people who are highly trained.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez, Arsene Wenger are all highly trained.


The whole aim of Uefa's coaching system is to prepare people so that when he goes into that firing line he has at least got the rough edges off him.

You wouldn't get the man off the street to come in and fix your faulty ceiling light - you would have someone who at least had some basic training as an electrician.

Marcello Lippi
If it good enough for Lippi it should be good enough for most people

Having the qualifications doesn't mean you're going to be a successful coach, but what it means is you have the basic preparation and you should avoid the major faults.

I am just writing up an interview with Marcello Lippi and he sums it up. To be a top coach you need two things: firstly the big personality to handle the top players and secondly the competence.

That competence comes from training and taking the steps where you learn your trade and make your way up the ladder.

If you look at top coaches like Fabio Capello, Lippi, Ferguson they have all had the training.

Even in his mid-20s Alex did all the coaching courses in Scotland, he even went back and did the refreshers and then went back as a staff member.

What these guys then did was they started at low level clubs and worked their way up, so when they got to the top they were prepared.

There will always be an exception to the rule - people who are naturally talented as managers - but the Pro Licence programme cannot be based on chance or the exception to the rule.


The reason for the Pro Licence was two-fold:

  • When I came to Uefa this was one of the core activities to deal with.

    To make sure coaches could move freely across borders without having to re-sit their diplomas.

  • To set standards and benchmarks and try to help Federations get to those benchmarks then even raise the bar.

    We created a group that included Gerard Houllier and we set the benchmark. The first six to reach the criteria were Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Holland and Denmark.

    Gradually others joined in and from two months ago all 52 countries in Europe are now members of the coaching convention.

    There are 170,000 coaches in Europe with a Uefa qualification
    Of the 52 countries who are part of the coaching convention, 30 can offer the Pro Licence
    Two others have a deal with bigger nations to provide the Pro Licence
    All 52 can offer at least the B licence
    But it is one thing to have the coaching education programme, it is another to recognise them and make them mandatory.

    In Spain, Italy, France, Germany etc they would say 'why are we investing all this effort into a coaching education programme and then our clubs take people off the street?' They wouldn't accept it.

    In most of the top leagues it is mandatory to have the Pro Licence. But this mandatory point has always been a problem in the UK.


    The Uefa club licensing system is now in place, it is evolving and in the next few years it will become compulsory.

    The certificate of competence was brought in for guys who had been in their jobs for five years. They were already there, they were recognised so there was no need to put them under pressure.

    But as of 2010 this certificate of competence will no longer be issued. Those who have it now are fine - this will have no effect on them. What we're saying is we'll not issue new ones.

    After 2010 if your team is playing in Europe your coach will have to be qualified. Either with the Pro Licence or the highest in that territory - so if you are in England you need the Pro Licence, if you are in Malta you need the A licence.

    That will apply to participation in the Uefa Cup, the Champions League but it will also apply to national coaches and Under-21 coaches.

    That is coming because the executive committee has just approved it and it will be phased in for the European Championships in 2012.

    The minute it is compulsory there is not a discussion - top players know when they stop playing this is what they need to do.

    Brooking demands coaching changes
    02 Dec 06 |  Football
    What is a Uefa Pro Licence?
    01 Dec 06 |  Football
    Southgate demands coaching change
    01 Dec 06 |  Football Focus
    Southgate outcome disappoints LMA
    23 Nov 06 |  Middlesbrough
    Southgate wins coaching reprieve
    22 Nov 06 |  Middlesbrough


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