Gareth Southgate is delighted that a series of chance meetings with Paul Clement has resulted in the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and PSG assistant coach joining up with England U21s this week.
Clement, who until last month was in charge at Derby County, worked as number two to Carlo Ancelotti at three of the world’s biggest clubs.
Switzerland v England
UEFA European Under-21 Championship
Qualifying Group 9
Arena Thun, Switzerland
6pm (GMT) 27 March 2016
Live on BT Sport 1
And this week the 44-year-old will travel with the Young Lions for Saturday’s European Championship qualifier against Switzerland – forming a first-class backroom staff with Chelsea’s assistant first-team coach Steve Holland, and goalkeeping specialist Martin Thomas.
Southgate explained: “I had some conversations with Paul when he was at Derby because their Under-21s play here quite a lot so he was passing through the centre.
“I actually went down to Chelsea to see Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] and Guus [Hiddink] and catch up with Steve [Holland], and Paul was visiting at the same time. So we’ve stood and watched training together, and as I was driving away I thought it would have been silly not to take up the opportunity.”
He added: “When managers are out of work we try to offer them a hand and support. Chris Powell was watching training today as well.
Watch England U21s in training at St. George's Park
“It’s brilliant for me as a coach to have with me, and it’s fantastic for the players to have him around. It’s a top-class coaching team.”
Southgate believes Clement has made a big contribution to his preparations already – but is also taking a longer-term view by welcoming some of the country’s best coaches into the fold.
“[I hope that] coaches like Steve and Paul that hopefully will be in years to come working with England at whatever level.
“It’s really good to give them experience of international football, experience of working for England. We ought to be about developing coaches every bit as much as we are about developing players.
“We will enjoy it while he is here and he has enjoyed the week with us to share a lot of learning and understanding as a coaching team.
“As head coach I make decisions on things but it has been great to have good quality opinions around me to heighten the level of thinking.”