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Talking Shop - David Pleat (2)

Posted on 10 November 2000  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Through a succession of directors of football here, or coaching gurus, from Walter Winterbottom, who Alan Wade took over from in 1963 and Charles Hughes, who took over from him, all had ideas and all had organisational qualities.

When Alan Wade first introduced regional coaches in the 60s, he purposely selected from both academic and professional people, so there was a nice cross-section who were organising coaching across the country.

We now have a system in place where no-one really appears to be able to identify the quality coaches. For sure, there are coaches working for clubs who have produced a style of play that is very systematic of their ideas.

For example, when I went to watch Norwich City under different managers, whether it was Mike Walker, Ken Brown or John Bond, they would play very tidy thoughtful football. That was the mark of coach David Williams, who went to Leeds and is now at Manchester United. Ray Harford coached Blackburn Rovers very successfully, and had already inherited and worked well with a group I had left him at Luton.

He is proving now again at Millwall, that he is a good coach. These are British people who have shown they can do that. Steve McClaren (pictured with Peter Taylor) now is on the first rung of what should be a very good coaching career. But, as of this moment, he has yet to maximise his experience and he is working with a group of players, who, because of their qualities, will win the majority of their games regardless because they are such good players.

The true test of a coach is whether he can maximise players of lesser abilities at a club with lesser resources. Step forward Dario Gradi, who has proved time after time that he can coach on a shoestring. There are others, and people should be aware how Oldham did, attaining Division One status and getting to cup finals, before going back inevitably to where their resources led them. Willie Donachie was a major player there, and Joe Royle has always been a sound manager and undoubtedly should have been considered for this front man job for England. As Bobby Robson could have been.

Other coaches in the past who have impressed include Malcolm Allison, John Bond and John Lyall. And, of course, look at who has coached Tottenham over the years, who have shown the ability to play imaginitive football. Over the road, Don Howe (pictured) is undoubtedly a fine coach, who, like many coaches, got pushed into management backwards and forwards when he was a younger man because he was obviously capable.

How many are very excellent coaches but not good managers? A good friend of mine is a top coach, Danny Bergara. A Uruguayan, he came here many years ago in the mid-seventies from an outstanding playing career. Danny learnt and is a very, very good coach. As a manager he proved very successful at Stockport, but I never felt he had management capabilities. As a coach — second to none.

Continued