Belfast Telegraph

Vieira: English methods must change

Manchester City's elite development squad coach Patrick Vieira believes England's youth coaching systems are lagging behind the times.

The former France and Arsenal midfielder feels that is the true reason the national team is not punching its weight - not because of the high number of foreigners playing in the domestic game.

New Football Association chairman Greg Dyke recently reignited the debate over whether the progress of talented English youngsters was being blocked by the proliferation of overseas players at leading clubs.

Vieira, who won the World Cup and European Championship with Les Bleus, feels that is too simplistic an argument and believes coaching structures need to change.

He said: "I believe the game has changed and if the game has changed that means we need to change our methods.

"I believe that the methods in England haven't changed as much as the game has changed.

"I heard some comments about there being too many foreigners in the country, that that is why there is no chance for the English players to have a chance to play in the first team.

"But for me that is the comment everybody wants to hear.

"The truth is (we need to ask) how can we help the young players to develop? How do we give them the best tools for them to improve?

"The problem is deeper than just saying there are too many foreigners. I think this is a deeper problem."

Vieira, 37, now finds himself in a position to do something about this, albeit at an advanced level, with City.

The Frenchman took up the offer of an administrative role at the club after retiring from playing two years ago but this summer decided to move into coaching.

The departure of manager Roberto Mancini and his backroom staff in May created an opening and Vieira was asked to take charge of City's elite development squad, which is effectively their under-21 team.

As well as playing in the Premier League's under-21 competition, they are also competing in the new UEFA Youth League this season, which is basically an under-19s Champions League.

Vieira sees his role primarily to prepare players for senior level, and infuse them with the philosophy of Manuel Pellegrini's first team, rather to win the competitions in which they play.

He said: "At this age and this level you win and lose, but both ways there is so much to take from it.

"What is important for the boys is for them to believe in themselves and express themselves.

"If you make a mistake, that is a way of developing. When you lose a game it is because you did something wrong, but (it is about) how can you learn from that so you don't repeat it.

"We have to believe in the philosophy we want to put in place.

"We have to give them time to develop and learn and make mistakes. It is more important than to develop them just to win games.

"They are good players and it is about giving them the confidence to express themselves.

"I want them to be brave, to play. The time for them to make a mistake is now, not when they are in the first team."


From Belfast Telegraph