Much has been made in the media recently regarding the wealth of good young Scottish managers up and down the country.
Junior football is no different and St Andrews United, currently sitting top of the East Region Premier League, are benefitting from having one of the most respected up and coming bosses outside of senior football in Phil McGuire.
It is no coincidence that Saints have senior clubs contacting them about the possibility of placing their young talent with McGuire at Saints, rather than the other way round.
Ever since he was a youngster at Aberdeen, McGuire has wanted to listen and has worked under some of football’s most forward thinking coaches.
Even when his career sent him down to England he was lucky enough to work under two of the best young coaches at the time in David Penney and Sean O’Driscoll.
“Football is funny old game as they say,” said McGuire
“Yes I have seen many managers, some good some bad and some indifferent, what I can say though is they are all honest and believe in their own techniques some may not agree but as a player you must respect that.
“I was always brought up and told by youth coaches and senior managers to train the way you play and that’s certainly what I adopted.”
Anybody who has come across McGuire will acknowledge that he is always prepared to talk and pass on his thoughts on the game, whether that be, dissecting the previous night’s TV game or the differences between Messi and Ronaldo, all he asks in return is that you listen.
Sitting in the dressing room at The Parkk, the sponsored home of St Andrews United, it’s obvious McGuire has made a difference to things since he took over the manager’s position during last season.
The walls are now bright red with inspiring and motivational quotes adorning them. Pride of place goes to a quote by American footballer and coach Vince Lombardi ‘Winners Never Quit And Quitters Never Win’ but to McGuire the impact of the red walls is just as important as the words.
“The changing room is our home, the players have their own space, we have music and all our tactical diagrams,” said the gaffer.
“I wanted to bring a bit of colour in to it and we had it painted along with a couple of motivational pieces that double up as standards we set as a team.”
Observing the training sessions set by St Andrews boss McGuire, it’s obvious they are carried out in a completely different atmosphere.
Some of the more experienced players have even said they have never had training like it.
“I was fortunate to play football at the highest level and work under managers from all different tactical and technical backgrounds,” said McGuire.
“I live for football, to give a player the belief and knowledge to improve themselves, and it is a wonderful thing to be able to do.
“I saw the potential at the club but felt the need for new training techniques.
“Having the confidence to do it is something I advocate at every session.
“I bring all the football exercises that I have been privileged to experience at a full-time level and adopt them for a part-time club.
“You can prepare and work like a full-time football club at a part-time level.
“The players play a different way and I am not going to say it’s the right way or wrong way from other managers, but it is what I believe and having my back room team believe in it also is helping the players adapt their games.
“Game knowledge, tactical awareness, confidence, and bravery to demand the ball or create space to receive the ball is everything we work on in training.
“We work on individual areas, strikers work on movement and finishing within the box. Now that will be different from midfielders or defenders, so to me it’s pointless working as a large group on the same exercises if it won’t benefit that player or his position.”
The changes Phil has brought to St Andrews United on and off the park have given virtually instant success on the playing side, with United sitting top of the league at almost the half way point in the season.
“The first half of the season has gone well. The players and the club have been fantastic,” said the boss.
“The squad has been put together and I feel have improved as time has gone on.”
Next week, McGuire looks to the rest of the season for the Saints.