First team coach Steven Reid joined the club in September to once again link up with Roy Hodgson, who he had played under during the manager's tenure at West Bromwich Albion.
Below we reproduce an article which appeared in last week's edition of The Sunday Times as he discussed with Paul Rowan his thoughts on coaching in the top flight and how his road in the management game began.
A blazing argument between Giovanni Trapattoni and Sam Allardyce about the fitness of Steven Reid around the time of the World Cup playoff against France was one staging post on the road to his coaching career which the former Ireland international vividly remembered last week. The argument was over the cartilage in Reid’s knee, or lack of it, which meant, Trapattoni told the world, that the player could no longer compete at the highest level. It was a harsh prognosis which Allardyce found “disgusting”. Reid, close to making a Premier League comeback for Blackburn, wasn’t too happy either.
“Trap’s English wasn’t great and sometimes he didn’t quite express what he meant and got involved in little situations,” says Reid. “It was a difficult one because at that time I was half way into what was almost a career-ending injury. In hindsight he might have had a point, but I can look back on it now and say I got another six years at Premier League level. I learned there about how to make your players feel good. It was tough at the time, but Sam dealt with it well and hopefully I did the same.”
Reid has landed a prized job as a first-team coach at Crystal Palace and has just arrived from a training session led by Roy Hodgson, who brought him to Selhurst Park soon after taking the job in September. His first coaching position was at Reading in the Championship, where he was appointed by Steve Clarke and then worked with Jaap Stam before leaving in the summer. He is currently completing his Pro-Licence, but doesn’t need the badges to know why he has landed a prized job at the top level.
“I prided myself when I was playing on doing things right every single day; being a good influence, helping young pros, being respectful round the training ground.”
He doesn’t shirk the current debate in English football about the lack of black managers and welcomes the FA’s attempts to attract more into the game by introducing quotas for jobs at international level, along the lines of the Rooney Rule in the United States.
“There are a lot of black players at Reading. It’s great if they looked at me and thought there is a path forward in coaching, but if you are not working hard and not doing things right as a player don’t expect to finish and come cap in hand saying ‘why can’t I get a job’?”
Reid, who’s 36, readily agrees that he was brought in at Crystal Palace by a manager nearly twice his age to bridge the generation gap with the players. He marvels at Hodgson, who can communicate with his players in French, Swedish or a few other European languages. Reid is happy to learn from somebody who has coached across Europe for more than 40 years.
Reid is not putting a time frame on when he would like to strike out on his own as a boss, though he did get an approach from Sligo Rovers a year ago when he was at Reading. He decided to stay at the Berkshire club as they were heading for the playoffs. “I did hear there was some interest, but it was probably the wrong time for me.” says Reid, who has also been talking with one of the Ireland international youth coaches, Keith Andrews, about taking some sessions in Dublin with the teenagers.
“I see Damien Duff is involved now along with Keith and hopefully Robbie [Keane] when he decides to call it a day. It’s a massive coup for the FAI to get a few of the ex-internationals involved. If you can get those sorts of characters who are still fresh in everybody’s mind from the Premier League it can really help.”
One of the most well liked men in football, Reid quietly asserts that he also has the “bark” when he needs to use it. The contribution he made for Ireland, 23 caps over a seven-yearcareer pockmarked by injuries, shouldn’t be forgotten.
“For the last five years of my career, I was at 50 or 60% of what I was when I had that great season at Blackburn. Every family photo from that time over a six-year period I have an ice pack on my knee. I had some really dark times in the last five years of my career. It all went back to a cruciate ligament injury that I got when I was at Blackburn. That was the moment that my career took another path.
“It was then about managing my body till the end of my career. I knew my days as a midfielder were over and so it was then about adapting my game. I was good at reading the game and ended up shifting to right-back. Luckily, a few managers saw me as being good to have around the squad. Going into the latter years you almost become a coach on the pitch as well.”
His last involvement with Ireland was a World Cup qualifying double-header over four days against Georgia in Germany and then down to Montenegro in September 2008. On his return to England, he booked himself in for more surgery and in the process checked out of international football. The sacrifices should be remembered when jobs are being carved out in the future, though Reid will hopefully be a wanted man at that stage and not short of offers elsewhere.