By Peter Glynn
Jamie Carragher has warned people not to judge St. George’s Park on its ability to produce players.
Instead, the Liverpool star insists the focus must be on the quality of coaches who graduate from The FA’s new national football centre.
Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, Carragher, 34, said: “You’re talking about bringing players through at St. George’s Park, but the players are going to be in the academies at their own clubs. I think that’s going to be the major part of their development.
“I don’t think we should be going down the road of thinking all of sudden we are going to be producing players left, right and centre, as the majority of work will be done at the clubs.”
Carragher attended England’s residential school of excellence at Lilleshall when he was 14 but is quick to stress the clear difference in objective of St.George’s Park, The FA’s new home of coach education.
Talented young players will only attend the centre when representing England’s youth teams, receiving the majority of their training at their own clubs.
On a daily basis, The FA’s new £105m centre will be inhabited by the coaches who will train the players in the grassroots clubs and professional centre of excellences and academies.
And Reds defender Carragher believes the most important work is ensuring coaches go back to their clubs with a strong understanding of The FA’s philosophy.
He added: “I think it is important that we continue to develop the academies and give them some ideas of how we want them to play.”
Coaches working in professional clubs as part of by the new Elite Performance Plan must hold The FA Youth Award qualifications to work with young players. Many of these courses will be held at the 330-acre complex.
In addition, The FA has employed a group of coach educators to support professional clubs on a weekly basis, reinforcing the messages from The FA’s playing philosophy The Future Game.
Carragher, who played 38 times for England, believes The FA’s new national football centre will provide the perfect opportunity for coaches from different clubs to gather and exchange ideas.
He said: “I think the benefits are for the coaches just as much as the players. It’s a great place to have the coaching forums and coaching badges and for swapping ideas. I think it’s a great base for everyone to come together, coaches and players.
Although Carragher wanted to keep the focus on coaching, he is fully aware of the benefits on offer for those talented young English players who are fortunate to train at the centre.
He said: “I think it’s great if the full-team are there and the U16s, the U18s, are there at the same time. They get inspired if they can see Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart, Frank Lampard.”
Carragher, whose current playing contract expires next summer, has been tipped as a coach of the future and is already attending The UEFA A Licence as an observer.
And although he is not yet ready to stop playing, when the time comes he believes St.George’s Park will be the ideal place to begin his learning journey.
He said: “With the facilities there, it’s going to be great for people like myself and other young coaches trying to get into the game.
“For me being at Liverpool all the time, it’s understanding there’s not just the Liverpool way of doing things. There’s different ways and different ideas and I think it’s going to be a great learning curve for everyone.”
By Peter Glynn