Candidates undertake UEFA Pro-Licence media training

Monday 20 Jan 2014
Keith Downing takes part in media training

Keith Downing probably never expected to see himself on television so frequently.

Elevated to West Bromwich Albion caretaker manager over the hectic festive period, the 48 year-old presided over five games in 15 days - and with that came the almost daily media responsibilities.

However, it wasn’t just the traditional post-match inquisitions which proved testing.

“I was well informed and my press officer was very helpful. There were certain issues which were difficult to address.

"But it was a great learning experience because there were difficult questions to deal with,” explained Downing, who admitted it was a surprise to be thrown into the managerial fray but handled himself admirably, losing only one Premier League game in five. 

Some of the country

Some of the country's leading journalists took part


Such real-life media scrutiny will have helped him to deal with a morning facing questions from national newspaper journalists and broadcast professionals as part of his continued studies on the UEFA Pro-Licence course at St George’s Park. 

Downing and the cohort of Pro-Licence candidates, that included Ryan Giggs, Paul Ince, Chris Powell and England women’s U17s coach Lois Fidler, faced a sit-down interview, flash interview and press conference with a variety of national journalists.  

While Downing is already well-versed with the media the opportunity to mix with those from within the industry proved insightful. 

“One situation was the sit down interview where you’re a little bit more relaxed and I think that’s a chance where you can sell yourself a little bit more. 

“I didn’t see it at that. I always saw the press as a guarded issue. We talked about the green light interviews which are opportunities for you to go and express yourself and show your personality and that’s important as well."

Being “open and honest” and “communicating well” with the players were the reasons Downing cited for his relative success, traits which shine through in interview. 

UEFA Pro-Licence candidates

Richard Barker, Keith Bertschin, Wayne Burnett, Keith Downing, Alex Dyer, Lois Fidler, Ryan Giggs, Stephane Henchoz, Paul Ince, Nathan Jones, Graham Kavanagh, Ian Kerr, Runar Kristinsson, Mike Marsh, Nick Marshall, Micky Mellon, Dennis Mortimer, Gary Neville, Shaun North, Chris Powell, Mark Yates.


The former Wolves midfielder is personable and relaxed when speaking and it is little surprise that his unassuming manner helped steady the West Brom camp after Steve Clarke’s departure in mid-December. 

Football moves quickly however and Monday's game against Everton signals the beginning of a new start for both West Brom and for Downing, who will continue in his role of assistant head coach to new boss Pepe Mel. 

Downing describes his new boss as “a man of warmth, of someone who wants to do well and who wants our [the current staff] help”.

“It’s exciting. For the rest of the season it’s a new way, a new culture and a new language. It’s really interesting times. From a coaching perspective it’s another addition to my coaching experiences and I’m looking forward to it,” explained Downing. 

And after a morning of dealing with difficult questions it seemed fitting to see if his career ambitions had altered after his stint in the manager’s office. 

“I have to be careful because I have a great supporting role at West Brom and I’m happy there, but if an opportunity came up I would certainly think about it, I have enjoyed my four weeks as manager in a very pressured situation. 

“Have I been surprised? A little bit, I’ve handled it better than I thought I might do.” 

By Peter Glynn FA Education Content Editor