In the second part of our exclusive interview with David James, we spoke to him about the changing culture behind English football.
Better coaches, better players. It is the mantra that has been carefully built into the foundations of St. George’s Park, The FA’s new home for English coach development.
The £83m National Football Centre is designed to arm coaches with the very best resources to enhance their skills and expertise, and is the platform for the development of a new generation of innovative and creative English players and coaches.
It is an approach supported by former England goalkeeper, David James, who believes in the importance of developing better coaches to aid in the lasting development of teams.
“The idea should be to bring in more coaches to make players better rather than bringing in better players to make teams better.
“You have got 20, 30 players to look after, so by bringing in more coaches to deal with individual needs you improve individuals and, logically, improve teams.
“It just seems that there is a historic trend for new managers to bring in new players to prove how good a manager they are.
“Well, my argument is that new managers should be better than the previous one and therefore should be able to get that team better.”
Speaking to the Licensed Coaches’ Club at the UEFA A Licence at Wokefield Park, James is busy preparing for life after football. The probability is that a coaching role will mark his next major career move.
When that happens, he will do so intent on ensuring that he brings with him a fresh perspective that has been shaped by his 22 years experiences as a player.
“I am a bit compulsive in the way that I prepare for games. [It is about] doing everything you can to play well on Saturday.
“As obvious as that sounds, so much time is spent in football not doing that. Instead, it is filling in time or keeping people happy, and it doesn’t have a positive effect on the outcome on Saturday.”
In order to encourage a shift away from the “filling in time” culture that sits so uncomfortably within his own ideals, James believes that there are lessons to be learned from other sports, principally those of the NFL.
“Culturally in the NFL the Special Teams are amazing. They go out early in the morning, video stuff, go out to training, video the training, come back in, watch the videos through and it’s a full day’s work.
“You could argue that they play 16 games in a season, so it is a shorter season and therefore they can commit more time to it. But in principle there is no reason why our traditional two-and-a-half hour day couldn’t be extended.
“I don’t mean it has to be physical, but more of a slight cultural shift.”