England hope for coaching boom
England should no longer have to go looking for foreign managers in the future if St George's Park does its job, according to the national football centre's chairman David Sheepshanks. However, he cautioned that it could be another decade before the effects of the state-of-the-art institution start to deliver success on the pitch.
The £100m project in Burton will take its first influx of England players next month when the U-17s get first use, followed by the U-21s in September and then Roy Hodgson's senior side in October ahead of their FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.
But it is the focus on teaching, and the aim of more than doubling the number of qualified coaches to 250,000 by 2018, which Sheepshanks hopes will drive a production line for the next generation of managers. "We have identified a number of desired outcomes that come from St George's Park," said Sheepshanks.
"They include increasing the number of qualified coaches, increasing the standard of coaching and also includes having more home-grown managers managing our Premier League teams and available to manage our international teams. If we get this right by definition we (England) should never need to appoint overseas and that will be a success measure going forward.
"Premier League teams are appointing foreign coaches because in their belief that is where they find the best talent. I don't necessarily concur with that - we have some very talented coaches in this country but we don't have enough.
"We need to develop more and more here so that they actually don't go looking, in ten year's time, overseas all the time. We will all be judged by best in class so if we don't deliver best in class coaches in England then people will continue going overseas."
England's U-19s have impressed at the European Championship, but Sheepshanks sounded a note of caution to anyone expecting immediate success at international level. He insisted the money invested in St George's Park was part of a long-term commitment to improving standards and not a quick fix which would help Roy Hodgson's side at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
"It is a calculated risk. It was a bold decision when money was tight but I think it will pay off handsomely," he added. "Hopefully there will be a short-term 'bounce' from the fact England will have its own training centre but we shouldn't be under any illusions that this is a long-term plan. We are looking at the 2020s, anything that happens sooner is a bonus."
The FA have scoured the globe looking at the best facilities from a number of sports and not just football and have used that to create an impressive facility. But Sheepshanks said the learning process would not stop they could not afford to stand still and admire their hard work.
"At the end of the day it is one thing for people to show you but another for us to replicate and emulate," he said. "What you see is a milestone but unfinished business. We have to go on demonstrating we do walk our talk. We are not saying to the world 'Look at us'. We have just got on with it and over the last four years built St George's Park.
"We have a way to go with an awful lot of hard work and dedication if we are going to achieve the success we all crave. I come from the school that says you can never learn enough and we have lots to learn.
"If we adopt the philosophy of insatiable learning and continual improvement in everything we do here and St George's Park encourages everyone who comes here to be better tomorrow than they are today that is investing in their career.
"That will be a massive culture change for the game in this country and one we can sometimes learn from in other sports if you look at English cricket today. When they get to the top of the world they know they have to go on working. I am sure Barcelona are the same and what (Vincente) Del Bosque has achieved with Spain is the same."