U19s boss Sean O’Driscoll: Our journey has started

Sunday 07 Sep 2014
Sean O'Driscoll
New England U19s Head Coach Sean O’Driscoll is confident that English football has already taken its first steps on an exciting new journey.

The former Doncaster Rovers and Nottingham Forest boss will take over the reins from John Peacock following this week’s game with Germany.

But O’Driscoll has seized the opportunity to work alongside Peacock for this fixture to get a good look at his future charges and he admits he’s been impressed with what he’s seen.

Germany v England

U19 International
5pm GMT Monday 8 September 2014
Stadion Niederrhein
Oberhausen, Germany

“We’ve got a talented group of players and we could probably have picked another 18,” he told TheFA.com.

“Therefore the boys that have been picked have got here on merit.”

“One or two players go off the straight and narrow and, as a result, everybody gets tarred with the same brush but contrary to what people think about young English players, they are extremely polite, extremely level headed and very knowledgeable."

So O’Driscoll is delighted with the attitude of his new players and also admits he’s pleased to discover that the way they are being coached from an early age is changing too.

“We want there to be a seamless transition between club football and international football because, for a long time, club football has been one thing and international football another,” he added.

“Possession is key in international football but that hasn’t necessarily been the case in English football where, traditionally, the focus has been on whether we can win this tackle or that header.

“In a way that makes us unique and other nations do look at us and go ‘if we had that type of passion added to our technical ability, we’d be a force’.

“That passion is difficult for other nations to coach into their players but we are trying to teach the other side of it, the technical and tactical knowledge, and make our players successful in international football.”

The Wolverhampton-born coach, who has also managed AFC Bournemouth and Bristol City, believes he has witnessed an improvement in the way players are coached through the English system, not just at international level but also throughout the English game, and he says the players have reacted to the change in a very positive manner.

“There’s a sea of change going on but everyone has embraced it and that filters down to the players because they see a clear pathway. Players don’t see it as a chore to go away with England anymore,” he told us.

“Hopefully we will look back and say, 'that's where it all started'.”

Sean O'Driscoll U19s Head Coach

“There are also great things happening at academies so, hopefully, it’s a win-win situation and the players will ultimately benefit.

“I suppose one of the reasons I was considered for the post in the first place was because these are the sort of lads that I’d try and play in the Championship. I’d challenge them and say, ‘go on, I know you’ve got ability but can you go and play where it really matters?’

“Coaching is my passion and this gives me the chance to work with the best players in the England set-up and be part of something which, hopefully, we will look back on like the Germans, Belgians and Spanish have and say ‘that’s where it all started’.

“You’ve got to start somewhere, you can’t just hope, and I think the journey has started for everybody.”

By Chris Hall Digital Content Officer