Paul Hall – Patreon
Monday, 28th Mar 2022 09:49 by Clive Whittingham, Patreon
Paul Hall is a man wearing many hats, and LFW caught up with him to talk development of our academy players, the importance (or otherwise) of results in youth team matches, who the 'next Eze' might be, and his new gig as manager of the Jamaica national team.
LFW has been conducting written interviews with figures from QPR’s past and present for 18 years and publishing them free-to-view. Now, to help support both this website and the iconic AKUTRs fanzine, we’re also making the audio from these interviews available to all three tiers of our Patreon subscribers as podcasts as a thank you for your support. Listen to the full interview via our Patreon by clicking here or read for free below…
That day at Rushden…
Before we get into what we’re obviously here to talk about which is youth development at QPR, there is one game from your playing career that I wanted to take you back to – Rushden 3 QPR 3…
I speak to Gareth about that game all the time, and Paul Furlong as well because he’d scored in that game as well. It was a game that’s brought us altogether because obviously I’ve found myself now coaching at QPR. What a game. Gareth will probably never score two goals like that again, and nor will anybody else. I made a bit of a run from halfway and stuck one past Chris Day, we nearly won it in injury time and it was a fantastic game all round.
Barry Hunter laying into Billy Turley the goalkeeper, what exactly did he want him to do?
I don’t know, sometimes you have to turn round and applaud somebody for genius which is what Gareth produced. I remember Ian Holloway picked up on that and I went back and looked and he was right. Billy Turley was a good goalkeeper you had to be good to get past him. We’d won the league the previous year to come up and had a good team. Barry was hammering him but if somebody sticks it in the top corner you have to pay them the respect due.
Did you think he was taking the piss a bit going for it a second time?
Well lightning doesn’t usually strike twice, but unfortunately for us it did. Gaz was one of those players who apparently did that all the time in training, but would then perhaps miss the simple ones. It was painful at the time but you can look back on that now, laugh about it, reminisce, and remember what a good player Gareth was.
It’s a shame what happened at Rushden, perils of relying on one rich guy to bankroll you I guess, like Gretna. That lovely set up and ground isn’t even there now.
No it’s not, and the shame about it was I loved playing for Rushden and Diamonds and had nothing but success while I was there we were always competing for something. The Rushden job actually came up for me while I was playing for QPR, which not a lot of people know. Walsall had said QPR and Ian Holloway fancy you, so I travelled down and had a week on trial with Rangers which included playing against Rushden in a practice game. I played really well against Brian Talbot’s (manager) son and QPR were still a little bit undecided, so after the match Brian Talbot sent his physio into the toilet after me to ask if I was available – not sure I like people following me into the toilet like that but anyway – and he said if the trial doesn’t work out here then come and sign with us. I ended up signing up there and it went well.
That would have been a good QPR team to be involved with.
It would. Marcus Bignot was there who was a good partner of mine, we really connected well down the right hand side. I’d scored in excess of 15 goals with him. It wasn’t meant to be. When you looked at QPR it was a club you wanted to be at, it’s a proper football club. One of the last proper football clubs left with a ground in a housing estate and that earthy feeling to it. It was a shame I didn’t manage to represent the club on the pitch.
Were you ever close to coming here apart from that?
Yeh I was. I got linked one and off throughout my career and it’s one I did want to come and represent, I respected the club. I’m just glad to be able to represent it now. I’m honoured to do it as a coach and B Team manager.
As a player, you played in a World Cup for Jamaica, what an incredible achievement, what was it like to be involved in the country’s greatest ever team?
Probably the best team in terms of togetherness. To play for Jamaica in a World Cup was the pinnacle for me. We were part of that roadshow that came to play at Loftus Road for Simon Barker and we just managed to ignite Jamaica and all the diaspora around the world. It was a pleasure to play for them. It’s not easy to qualify, they play one of the highest amount of qualifiers anywhere in the world if they do qualify – I think we played 18 times to get there. We were a strong team, we came through the US, El Salvador, Hondurus and gave a good account of ourselves.
What was the key to that team over any other generation of Jamaican players? It always feels like it relies on how good the diaspora is in developed leagues around the world but that team had local players like Ian Goodison and Theo Whitmore in it.
There are good players there, fantastic players there. If you think there are skilful players here, you haven’t seen players until you see some of the talent in Jamaica, absolutely mercurial with the ball, crazy, they just lack opportunity. When we first went over it was me, Fitzroy Simpson and Dion Burton – we paid our own airfare to go and have a trial. They were a good team already and were just missing a certain something, perhaps a professional element that we could bring. The creative element was all there. It was a perfect marriage between the two and it kicked the team into gear. Jamaica then realised they could use the diaspora to strengthen. It was a strong team, a strong changing room, we fought for each other, and the structure and professionalism that came in really worked.
What was it like that summer in France?
When you get to a World Cup nobody really understands what it’s about. It’s a roadshow, unbelievably well organised. Our group had Argentina and Croatia in it, we managed to win a game, Robbie Earle scored a great goal against Croatia and that was 1-1 at half time. It was a fantastic feeling. You realised you were in the big time, but you also realised these players aren’t so much better than you as you perhaps thought. We were trading punches with the big boys. I always tell a young player once you get to a certain level, after that it’s will and desire that gets you to the pinnacle. We had a lot of that.
You’re manager there now, how has that come about and what sort of situation have you inherited because results haven’t been good for a while?
They haven’t been good. I managed to get the assistant manager position last summer to Theodore Whitmore and went to the Gold Cup. You get yourself a good diaspora and find yourself having a a great choice – Michail Antonio, Leon Bailey, Ravel Morrison. The way the results went is when you go over to Jamaica there isn’t a lot of time to coach the players together. When you fly eight hours you have to give the players the next day off, so you probably get an hour to say ‘this is what we’re doing’. It is tough to manage a group when it’s predominantly English players who have had to come a long way. The results haven’t been great. But we need to look at it, rebuild, restructure and make sure in four years’ time we have a group that can achieve consistently and start to put together results consistently. It’s a real rebuild process at the moment.
Is it about getting a better mix of locals and diaspora then?
It’s finding form, getting confidence, and turning that into results. It’s a ten year project. Just like Belgium, Germany and England did, and Canada and the US, these players producing players started ten years ago. They didn’t start and expect results straight away, Belgium started this process way back to get to number one in the world. Wales had a ten year period to go through. They didn’t look for quick answers, or success until about eight to ten years. We have to identify the players in Jamaica who are very good and get them into a programme that enables them to be competitive with the players around the rest of the world. It’s about expert coaching, getting the players to understand the process, we’re looking at 14-15 year olds now.
What constitutes success in that job and that process?
You’ve got to have your key performance indicators. QPR have done this, Chris Ramsey came in and talked about the journey that will go up and down but you have to gauge success based on the key performance indicators. At QPR it’s about getting as many youngsters into the first team as we can so we can get either money for these players or first team players. We’ve achieved a great deal at QPR so far. It’s almost the same type of model at Jamaica. Every time we’re looking to maybe get one of the young ones into the squad and onto the pitch. Give them that experience, have games, develop a conveyer belt of talent, and then you start to see results get better and you start qualifying for things again.
The real quiz
Can you explain the structure at QPR now, your role within it, and why we’ve decided to go down a B Team route.
Micah Hyde looks after the young ones in the U18s. Paul Furlong floats between all of the groups, he was the U18s coach but we move the coaches around a lot now. Andy Impey looks after the U23s having been my assistant there. I’m the B Team head coach. It’s the first season with this structure, we really want to build the B Team up. What you would have seen recently when we played Millwall was a real proper B Team where you had the players who didn’t play for the firsts on Saturday – George Thomas, Sam McCallum, Andre Dozzell – and then the best performers from the U23s. They’ll go and play against a range of opposition – Huddersfield B, Rangers B, Athletic Bilbao B – and try give them that broad experience. We want to keep their spirits up by playing these really good games, better than the U23s league. We want them to be real football matches – when we go and play Brentford that’s a real football match, it plays like a first team game and has to be approached in that way.
The U23s is an extra step for the 19- or 20-year-olds who perhaps need that extra time to go from boy to man. The beauty of what we’re doing is that extra team gives players that little bit more time to develop in maturity, psychologically and technically.
Has it worked this season as you would hope it to?
Well, again looking back to the Millwall match, we put a B Team out there in an U23 match and it worked. We’ve managed to get performances out of the players. The B team isn’t about winning and losing, winning is nice, it’s about getting 90 minutes into the players in the style the manager would play here. Getting them ready in case they’re needed for Nottingham Forest, or Blackburn. In that respect yes it has worked. We had Dom Ball, Andre Dozzell, George Thomas, those type of players who did very well. It’s about the sharpness of those players. Can we get them sharpness, competitive games where they are competing against more first team-type players. You don’t know what’s going to turn up in the U23s – you might be playing against a team of U18s, or a really experienced group. The B Team guarantees you that experienced level.
Is that gap between U23s and first team football too enormous for it to serve as any kind of preparation for first team football?
There does have to be a bridge, however I don’t think the gap is that enormous. I’m seeing Millwall play 17-year-olds. I see teams playing kids who have not long been in school. I come from a development background, I think if they’re good enough they’re old enough. The two ways you develop somebody is either throwing them in and see if they swim, or slowly develop them up to that stage. I don’t think the gap is enormous. It’s about opportunity.
What happens is the mistakes are punished that much more at that level that people are afraid to take a chance on a youngster now. We’ve had Ebere Eze, Ilias Chair, Seny Dieng, Joe Lumley, Darnell Furlong, and I could go on. These guys were all young, built in the U23s with no B Team, and have gone and played in the Championship and better. I don’t think it is an enormous gap, the perception is it’s enormous. I made my first team debut at 17, I didn’t know what I was doing, but they stuck with me because they saw potential, 15 minutes here and there helped me. I started at Torquay and ended up playing in the World Cup. The gap isn’t great, it’s perceived to be great, and the fact there is so much money involved and people can get the sack after six poor games they won’t trust a kid unless they’re really sure.
Is the aim for the B Team to play more often than it has this season, and in more competitive games – Middlesex Cup, London Senior Cup?
We want to be competitive. We want to go and play Inter Milan. We want the players to have those experiences and competitive games. Whether you win 6-0 or lose 6-0, it’s about the minutes. In the past we’ve seen players go long periods without minutes. The B Team does a beautiful job of that. We want more games, we played a lot of non-league teams last year which was competitive. The more we get first teamers who aren’t playing into B Team games the more we can get them into competitions where there’s a cup on it. It’s early days with the B Team. It’s not an overnight thing. It takes investment. There’s a lot more than just putting a B Team out and expecting things to happen. We’ll look back, reflect, and talk about how we can do better.
The job is obviously developing players for first team and players to sell. Do you have targets? What constitutes success? One a year, more than that…
We want to be consistent. The U18s will graduate to the U23s, the U23s will graduate to the B Team, and the B team graduates to the first team. The more players that can do that the better. We’ve just been through the names we’ve had since 2013, when before that we’d had Richard Langley. So we’ve already exceeded any number that we’d have wanted to put on that because we’d have been considered crazy. We want to continue to get those players through. We had players on the pitch in the Millwall game who could be really good for us and you’ll see them on the pitch in the Hoops in the Championship or Premier League. In terms of how many it’s as many as possible. I’d rather a steady consistent drip than all at one time – Barcelona had the problem where a golden generation came through and then aged together and dropped away at the same time, Manchester United they all dropped off together. A steady trickle of talent coming through is what you want.
You’ve won today against Millwall and I can tell you’re pleased with what you’ve seen, but how important are results? The U23s recently lost seven in a row and while it’s easy to say it’s not about results you’re a competitive guy who won’t like to lose games, the players won’t enjoy losing, can you explain that dynamic?
I could lose 1-0 and be really happy with the team’s performance, or win 1-0 and be angry and upset with them. When you’re in development it’s about performance. Can you get a consistent performance together so I can say to the manager ‘this guy is playing really well, look at him over the last few games’. The team may have lost, but this guy has achieved his objectives – maybe that was getting eight crosses in, which would be firepower for Charlie Austin.
You have to break it down. In the U23s you might come up against Nottingham Forest, who have got six pros in there who have played in the Championship, and I’ve got a team no older than 19. You’re probably going to get done 6-0. It’s still about performance. I’d rather get players into the first team who the manager has to look at as playing really well even though they’ve lost 5-0, rather than win 5-0 and go down the pub and tell my mates about that but get no players into the first team. It’s lovely to win, we all want to win, I can’t stand losing, but I have to look at the bigger picture. At the end of the game Les will never ask me the score, he’ll say ‘How did you get on? Who played well? Did we have the best player?’ They’re the questions to ask. Me winning or losing doesn’t effect our place in the Championship, but Dominic Ball comes and plays for us and shows a first class attitude then gets on the pitch with George against Blackpool and does really well.
Like you say, you might play against a more experienced Forest team and get done. You’re not going to have a lot of the ball in that game. Can you develop players in a losing team, on a losing run, doing it tough?
There’s pure development in a losing team. A losing team can only develop. I’d ask how much do players develop in a winning team? You’re not improving, you just think you’re great because you won. It takes a real reflective person to understand how you develop after winning. A losing team is forced to look at themselves, what went wrong, how do we get better, how do we fix it? When you’re winning a lot gets brushed under the carpet. Development has taught me that. Can you develop somebody in a losing team? One hundred percent. They’ll go home, reflect on how they can be better next time.
When you are low down in the U18 league, the U23 league, as we are, what do you tell yourself and what do you tell the players who are young, heads might go down…
It’s a mindset. I’ll say to the players ‘how did you play today?’ ‘I was crap.’ ‘Why?’ ‘We lost.’ ‘I didn’t ask you that, I asked you how you played.’ You have to be able to break the game down. I’ve never seen a team win with one player. We all win and we all lose. There are 11 people with 11 strengths and 11 things they need to work on. Every player that plays for myself, Chris, Andrew, Paul, Micah will always have something they have to work on in this particular game. If they don’t achieve that, we look at why that was. If all the players achieve their objectives then they’ve probably won the game. We’re trying to teach the kids don’t relax when you win, let’s be better, let’s be better. It is important for us to win games and have that feeling, but winning is not the priority. They could win their league and we take none of them on because they’re not at the level we need of them, or they could come fifth or sixth and three or four come through. There’s loads of examples of that. Tottenham’s youth team with Harry Kane in it got beaten in a cup semi-final by Norwich, but a few years later loads of players from that team were playing UEFA Cup first team football.
When you’re picking a team and tactics how much of it is what you want to do, the strengths of your players, the opposition, and how much of it is mirroring the first team’s shape and style as much as possible?
We don’t watch the opposition really. B Team I might have a look, but at U23 level you don’t know who is going to play. We had three boys we would consider first team players with us today, but if the manager had withdrawn them because he had injuries then we’d have had three youngsters and it’s a totally different game. Millwall could have had the same thing. That surprise element means there’s no point watching the opposition at all. Sometimes you have to pick whatever the team is – you do want to mirror the first team as much as possible, but you might have three players who aren’t suited to playing three at the back. You might have other players you need to get minutes so you play a 4-3-3 to get them in. We have discussions, we do want to mirror, but sometimes you can’t. The first team has Charlie Austin, do we have anybody who is kind of like Charlie Austin… probably not. However we’ll try and get as close to it as possible.
Wouldn’t make much sense to just go 4-4-2 and bang it long all afternoon.
I’m a purest, that’s like swearing at me man. I could never bang it long. Never, never, never. Ok, maybe the last two minutes, of the Premier League final, and we need the ball forward to see a game out or get it up to Hamza so he can bash people about. That’s the only time. I like a little bit more identity. I do believe that QPR over the years have always had that identity of playing football and whichever team I pick I’ve tried to replicate that and produce a good game of football to watch.
Has seeing Eze go through and achieve what he’s achieved had an effect on the players in your groups, and also your ability to attract players to sign here?
Yes. There have been points where everybody wanted to come here and we have got a reputation because of Ebere and Darnell, Ilias, Seny, Joe, Ozzy, Nico. They’ve all come through and been excellent for our U23s. Josh Bowler. At the very least we have stories we can go to the young players with and say Ebere came through, wasn’t the finished article, but is a picture of resilience, just like Ilias. We get these guys to come back and talk to the young guys. We can attract people here by showing that pathway. It’s like no other pathway in London. We’re not exactly high up in the pecking order for players to come, however we have players who have managed to get in and contribute to the first team.
Is that enough of a weapon in our arsenal when we’re surrounded by category one academies where the EPPP rules are heavily weighted in their favour?
We’ve got some fantastic coaches here. We’re up there with anybody. I challenge anybody to find a coaching staff who’ve made as many appearances as myself, Paul Furlong, Andy Impey, Ade Bankole, Micah Hyde and Chris Ramsay. We’ve played thousands of games. Being in a category one comes with no guarantees, in fact it makes it less likely that you will make it. If you’re in a category one, how many of those players get through? You can be attracted by the badge as much as you like, it doesn’t guarantee. It’s a sexy image for a couple of years. But we see those players a couple of years down the line, they leave the top clubs and end up coming to us on trial. We see loads of them here on trial. Eze was released from Arsenal, Fulham and Millwall, he walks in here and now he’s a superstar. Some people are drawn to the category in the first instance, but I would say look who the coaches are, look at their experience, and what they’ve produced. A couple of seasons ago we were top three in the country for producing first team players. We’re good at what we do and we’re category two, based purely on categories we shouldn’t be anywhere near what we produce here. The category is just about facilities, a nice little bowling green pitch, recording players, all the facilities in the world, but it’s no guarantee. They might attract the best players, but then what do they do with them?
Is it a more realistic aim and method for us picking up boys later in their teens after they’ve dropped out of category one academies, than trying to bring them all the way through from eight? We’ve had both but it seems to me the way EPPP is structured anybody who’s half decent at 11, 12, 13 can just be stolen from you. Is it more realistic for us to pick the drop outs from that system at the other end or do you still hold that ambition to bring kids all the way through from eight years old?
You have to, you have to do that. Different clubs have got different methods of bringing people through. We have been good at taking players who weren’t succeeding in their environments and turning them around into players who are succeeding, so we’re doing something right there. But it is a balance. Aaron Drewe, Ozzie Kakay, came all the way through. The programme does work and we have good players coming through. There’s no guarantee that somebody who wasn’t quite good enough to make it at Arsenal will come here and make it instead.
Eze we took from a different club. But we also saw youngsters from Brighton, Man City and Spurs come through but he was better than those guys and is doing better than those guys. With every single player we want to give them a fighting chance. We make a promise to their parents that we will look after their development, look after them as young people, try to make sure we’re bringing them through with the best intentions possible. Some will make it, most won’t. You’re trying to get into the top 3,000 players in a country of 26.5m men and boys. It’s a tough job.
We have got a new training ground coming down the line, but it’s not enough to move us to a category one academy. Are you disappointed, do you aspire to that, from what you’ve said it doesn’t sound like it?
The category one for me is good because you get to play against good, top, young players and it normalises the effect. Any time we play Chelsea or Arsenal, you don’t know whether our players want to mark them or get their autograph because there’s some young superstars they’re playing against. Playing a category one side every week does normalise that situation for you. That’s good.
But I’m perfectly happy being a category two. We’ve been competing with category one academies since 2013 and we’ve managed to get players into the Championship, Premier League, League One and League Two. We’ve done our job. It’s bragging rights, but does it help the productivity? Probably not. It’s not about the building it’s about the people inside the building.
Are parents and kids waking up to that? It feels like a lot of the category one academies hoover kids up, never an intention of using them in the first team, multiple loan deals, get some money for them later on by clubs blinded by the fact he’s played for Chelsea or Man City, lots of them fall out. Is development in this country working? They feel like puppy farms.
What you see a lot now is parents as player agents. Not all of them, but a lot of people are picking up on the fact that this could be a big money and very fruitful thing for the family. These football clubs are giving big money to younger and younger players. I started off at Torquay, I should never have played in the Premier League or a World Cup. I think the parents need to box cleverly here. When a big club comes knocking ask the right questions. The badge isn’t enough.
One of the team talks I always give is you’re not playing against Chelsea’s first team, you’re playing against players who won’t be here in a few years’ time. If you don’t perform against them, they’ll probably be taking your place here. Because you’re at Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, at 12, or 17, that’s no guarantee you’ll be there at 23 or 24. Development comes in all different shapes and forms – Lee Sharpe played with me at Torquay, Man Utd le them do all the work then shipped him off after 12 first team appearances. There are only so many spaces you can get into. There are 1,012 starting positions in the Football League each Saturday and you’re trying to make that number.
Do you think pathways from youth to first team can be improved in general or does the money at the top end of the game mean it’s unrealistic until you drop down the levels?
One of the barriers to success for a youngster is that at the very top of the football club the patience is very thin. For you to be able to have an approach of producing your own it’s very brave. There is pressure from the fans, pressure on the first team manager who might lose a game because of a mistake by a 17-year-old. You have to send them out on loan and see what they can do. The opportunity is only there if people are brave and more patient at that level.
We seem to use a lot of players at U23 level. Is that a case of kiss a lot of frogs as a method? Are you trying to stock the B Team that way? Does that not restrict players development, and progression from the U18s, when we’re using as many players as we are?
Nobody is guaranteed to make it, nobody is guaranteed to come through from the U18s. If we got rid of all the U23s and had no U18s coming through… It’s about who we’ve got coming through. Aaron Drewe has come through like an absolute train, played in the first team, seen him in the FA Cup making clearances and playing well and getting good reports, we’ve all been to watch him and he’s done really well. He’s come out of nowhere really, not that we didn’t believe in him but it’s been a great surprise.
They all get to play games. If you’re not seeing them play league games we put friendlies on for these players, they all get minutes. You can never put your finger on which one is going to come through. Eze had tremendous ability, the best we’ve seen here for years, but it’s more than just being on the ball, it’s off the ball, psychology, how does he get on with the rest of the team – on his first team debut he only managed 17 minutes. Any of these players could come through and make it, you can never say there are too many players here because a player can come from the most unexpected place. We’ve just released a whole load of players to let others come through hut there has to be a process about that.
Why did Eze make it with us when he hadn’t elsewhere?
There are some basic human needs. They need to know they’re competent enough to play, have a certain level of autonomy, and the most important is the level of care. We provided a level of care for him. I’m not saying they didn’t anywhere else but we absolutely believed in him, we gave him pastoral care, so much support, and really focused on his care. We knew we were working with someone special. Sometimes we told him off, and it was uncomfortable for him. We focused on that kid, improved his resilience, and he responded so well. At Crystal Palace I’d tell the manager to give him that care, he needs to be motivated, he needs those basic needs. He got a top level of care here. We were always on at him.
We have more black coaches at QPR than the rest of the EFL put together. Opportunities for black coaches gets talked about a lot. What has been your experience coming through as a black coach? And what do we do differently here?
My experience coming through is 100 applications not even answered. Failed interviews. Repeatedly told I wasn’t experienced enough and then seeing somebody less experienced than me get the role. It is tough as a black coach. Almost impossible. There are not many people who look like me in the opposite dugout when I travel up and down the country. It’s really tough, and it’s hard to take. We’re losing a lot of potentially good coaches to people’s pre-conceived views or certain prejudices. They’d rather go into agency or television or out of the game. They’ve got just as great experience as white coaches, but end up not getting employed. It is getting better.
At QPR we hire the best coach for the job. We’ve proven ourselves to be up there with the best. We don’t do anything different but we have to be on top of our games. The best coaches when we were hiring happened to be black. We have a lot of black coaches you’re right, but we are good at what we do, we’re up there with anybody, I’d challenge anybody to come up with figures better than ours. I think we’re second or third behind a couple of clubs renowned for developing players.
I’m glad QPR have a diverse workforce because it really reflects where we come from. The board is diverse. Different thoughts, diverse opinions. Look at Manisha Tailor, an Asian woman, probably the only Asian woman at her level in the game. We have black coaches at the top of their games. It’s something I feel my club is world leading on.
When we talk about Eze, bringing black players through, does it help having black coaches, or am I just barking up the wrong tree there?
You’re barking up the right tree. It has a benefit of course. I don’t know why a lot of clubs haven’t thought about this. If you’re a young player and you see a coach that has had the same upringing as you, you can get into the mindset and psyche of that player and really bring the potential out of him. Not always. But you understand from a cultural and background point of view, you’ve walked that mile in their shoes. We come from West London, we have kids here who are black and Asian, our club is the best football club they could walk into and see an example of yourself. All of these organisations should look at QPR and see a living, breathing, organic model. We don’t look at colour first but we look at diversity first, and have a massive, diverse staff – if you go to Loftus Road you see it in the coaching staff, in the back office, in the crowd at games. I’m really proud of the football club and to work here.
Is a number one role your ultimate aim?
Oh yeh, one hundred percent. I see myself as a number one, absolutely. It’s what I’ve worked for, I’m a pro-licence coach. You don’t take that if you don’t want to do it. I need to test myself and I’m doing that with Jamaica at the moment. It’s important for me to challenge myself, get out of my comfort zone. It’s all development as far as I’m concerned, even in the first team you’re trying to make people better. The best coaches, Guardiola, Bielsa, Klopp, they all make players better. Proper coaches. They’ve worked with development people and are never satisfied. I’m never satisfied.
I’ve done pretty much everything else in football and that’s the next step for me.
I should ask you who is the next Eze but I’m sure you’ll tell me it’s unfair to name names.
It would be unfair because as I said somebody can suddenly progress out of nowhere. If you saw Hamzad Kargbo’s goal today, he’s taken the ball outside the area, spanked it into the back of the next. He’s a big unit, I wouldn’t want to be marking him, once he’s able to pull it altogether then he could be a real good asset for somebody. When somebody puts a cross in and he goes to attack it I’ve rarely seen anybody attack a ball as good as him in the air. Joseph Ajose’s performance today was frighteningly good, he’s getting better, and better and better every time I see him. Such an exciting player who I love watching, as I love watching other players in the team. To pick out one is always unfair, I’d challenge them all. The ones that look great at 16 aren’t usually the ones who are still there at 23. You’ve just got to support them and turn them into the best versions of themselves.
I did want to ask you about one specific – Charley Kendall was prolific but we shook hands halfway through this season, now Lincoln have picked him up from Eastbourne is that one that’s got away there?
We give them an education, a footballing education. We want to give them the best possible experience and education they can have, so when they go to another football club people will say they’re safe, they’re sound, they’re good at their job, they’ve been educated well. This was one of those things where a player sometimes feels things aren’t happening quick enough. He’s made a move, decided to do that, scored some goals for Eastbourne, and popped up somewhere else. That happens in football. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it’s the worst thing you ever did. We wish Charley all the best, we hope he does make it, because we had a hand in that development. We hope he goes on and becomes who he needs to become. We can’t get it right every time, the ones we don’t get right we always wish all the best.
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The U'sual Ramblings #3 by wessex_exile
The U’sual Ramblings #3 comes on the back of an imperious victory at Portman Road, our first there since 13th October 1951, when Jimmy Allen’s U’s won 2-0 courtesy of second half goals from Vic Keeble and Fred Cutting in front of 19,275. This was back in the old Division Three South days, and the U’s would finish the season 10th, with our Suffolk neighbours down in lowly 17th place. Needless to say, some of the gloss of Tuesday’s backs to the wall defensive masterclass was tarnished by the behaviour of a mindless minority in the away end, though the CUFC Police twitter account has since confirmed these were not regular day in day out supporters of Colchester United. Let’s hope investigations identify the culprits, and that they never darken our doorstep again. Our reward is a second round home tie against Premier League Brentford, and whilst it won’t be on the TV, assuming Brentford sell out their 2,000 allocation, it should be a decent crowd and an excellent atmosphere at the JobServe.
The U'sual Ramblings #2 by wessex_exile
The U’sual Ramblings #2, and the U’s first home match of the season. Much has been written on our narrow defeat away at Northampton Town last Saturday, not least that if they are the yard-stick for promotion contenders, we can take plenty of credit (and hope) from most of our performance, which really should have earned a point. However, we’ve seen these false dawns before – remember away at Notts County, and at Bradford, in recent years, where we thought we were playing contenders, and they turned out to be whipping boys for most of the season. Still, I don’t expect that of Northampton, so stout hearts faithful…and wasn’t it great seeing Nouble bombing down the wing doing what he does best again!
The U'sual Rambling #1 by wessex_exile
Here we go folks, are we ready for another rollercoaster of joy and dismay? Right now, I’ll probably take an even mix of both if it guarantees a solid midtable finish, but why stop at that. I agree with Durham in his excellent match review, given how well we finished the second half of the season, ignore the bookies perennial struggler tag – we can do this! For the new season, the blog has slightly metamorphosed into The U’sual Rambling, though largely the same format as last season, albeit perhaps less labour-intensive in content. In my case, pertinent for Saturday given I am missing the opener at Sixfields to dog-sit the beautiful (and high maintenance, super ridiculous, energetic etc.) border collie Reggie.
When Monday Comes #37 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and we reach the end of a topsy-turvy season, much of which hasn’t been that much fun if I’m honest, though latterly considerably improved under Wayne Brown. If I can, I always like to do the first and last game of the season, but sadly a trip to Hartlepool just wasn’t on the cards, not if I actually wanted to get home again tonight, so I had to console myself with a pretty enjoyable trip to the JobServe last weekend – not quite the victory the U’s deserved over Walsall, but a great day out anyway. I know it’ll be too late for the Player of the Year awards, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a Freddie Sears hat-trick this afternoon to round off the season.
When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes tomorrow, and I will be on a train heading over to God’s own county for my last U’s game of the season. That should have been last Friday’s trip to the Principality, but as posted elsewhere I was more than happy to be pre-booked to dog-sit Emma’s collie Reggie that night and had to be content with one of Nadine’s ‘downstreams’ on iFollow. Given both the performance and the result, whilst I was sorry to miss it in person, I was more than happy with how Friday night turned out in the end. Tomorrow will be a gathering of the clans for us, with at the last count at least 8, possibly more, of the family gathering for the match. Ironically, I’ll see them all again on Bank Holiday Monday for a family birthday, but I’ll be driving over for that one.
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