Yesterday we teamed up again with the North American Irish Coaches to interview Jim McGuinness. Jim is coach that I have admired for a long time and has had a fascinating journey. He started in Gaelic Football in Ireland, firstly as a player with Donegal and then taking them to All-Ireland victory against the odds. He moved onto soccer with roles at Celtic, Beijing Guoan where he worked with Roger Schmidt, and then most recently as head coach of the Charlotte Independence in the USL. I've read Jim's book and have followed his career closely so was really looking forward to this one.
I don't think you can have a coaching conversation with Jim McGuinness without talking about mindset, so that's where I wanted to start the conversation. It's well publicized that he set the bar high with Donegal from day one, looked everyone in the eye and told them that they were going to win the championship. But anyone who has coached knows that if it was that easy, we would all have a lot more titles behind us. So how did he do it? His insight into the daily life and working alongside the players to establish and then live up to the standards was fascinating. Jim pointed out that there are a lot of variables that you have to get right to build a winning mentality, players are smart enough to assess it themselves, but the training pitch is where the right levels must be hit consistently. "The most important thing of all is training, there's no getting away from it", Jim explained. "It's all about what you do on the pitch, along with the character and intensity that you develop on the pitch, brings everything together and creates the competitive advantage."
As Jim gave insights on Brendan Rodgers and Roger Schmidt, two coaches who wanted to play with a similar tempo but perhaps differences in what they were looking for in possession, it was very clear that the details matter at that level. He expanded on this with explaining the role of recruitment, sports science, and youth development. If a club is aligned in all those areas, they have a better chance of not just achieving success, but also sustaining it. As the questions came in from the coaches in attendance, we got an insight into why he moved from Donegal, his challenges going back to school, and then the message he would tell a young Jim McGuinness. The inspirational messages delivered with intensity, honesty, and passion showed you the power of not just ambition and drive in a coach, but also humility and empathy. I would recommend having a notepad close-by when you are listening to this one.
You can watch the full replay below.
During these times of uncertainty, our goal at Modern Soccer Coach is to provide the coaching community with as much daily content as possible. If you would like to support Modern Soccer Coach, please go to our shop and order one of our books. Coaches can get 40% off every order by using the code MSCSPECIAL at checkout. Thank you!