When you have that spirit, you know that you’ve got a group of players who can respond to negative situations on the pitch. You know that everything doesn’t fall apart when you go a goal behind or have a man sent off. That it’s not the end of the world if you go behind in a game.
After I left Bolton, I found that same team spirit in the Celtic dressing room. In fact, I think it was one of the biggest reasons why we stopped Rangers from winning 10 league titles in a row.
When I finished playing, I knew I’d need more to draw on than those experiences to become a coach. You have to put the work in, do the groundwork and, of course, get your badges.
Even once you get those, you need a really good platform of experience. You have to see the day-to-day running of what coaches do. Of what managers do.
As a player, I used to walk out onto the training pitch, look at the session all laid out and take it for granted. Now, I appreciate that those sessions don’t just take five minutes to set up, they take hours of speaking with your coaches, understanding the individual needs of players and knowing what you’re trying to get out of the session in terms of building towards a matchday.
“Until you’re there doing it, you don’t realise how much it takes you out of your comfort zone”
Are there areas you want to work on with certain individuals in order to target the oppositions’ weaknesses?
Players don’t get that. They just see the session and play. It’s not until afterwards when you speak to them about why they were doing certain things that they understand. Then they see there’s a reason and a purpose for everything.
I was lucky to get my platform of experience at Everton.
I enjoyed being out on the grass with the players in the under-21s, giving them instructions in terms of how we wanted to play and then seeing the results from that.
Straight away, it seemed to resonate with me. I was very comfortable being on the pitch. It’s not like that for everyone, though.
When you first get into coaching it can be quite intimidating.