Leading European club coaches are unanimous in welcoming the opportunity to put their views forward to UEFA on the state of the European game, as well as being given a platform to meet and exchange ideas away from the touchline where they are normally in opposition.
The cream of the European club coaching fraternity gathered at UEFA's House of European Football in Nyon for the 13th UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum, and discussed a variety of issues ranging from the tactical trends in the UEFA Champions League and the profile of today's top coach to the importance of substitutions and the impact of injuries on performances.
"It's a great opportunity for all of us to share our views on the game in the present format that it is now – and especially the Champions League," said Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who is the link between the latest UEFA forum and the inaugural event in 1999, when he was also present. "It's amazing that when you do that, how many new ideas come out of it.
"It's something that you can take on board, and [UEFA] is always prepared to listen to us. Over the years UEFA has been very amenable to all the things that we've been asking."
FC København coach Roland Nilsson also greeted the chance to talk with his fellow trainers in a relaxed setting. "It's where you want to be as a coach, to be around people who do the same things as you but with slightly different methods," he explained. "So you are always discussing and thinking whether this is something I can use with my players. Those discussions can always lead to something – that's why it's so good to be here."
"I believe there are so many interesting subjects treated here, because here we speak about football, about those things which really concern us, " added SV Werder Bremen boss Thomas Schaaf.
"No matter if it is about the personal role of the coach, no matter if it is about the specific training routines, no matter if it is about organisational aspects – like how something is planned, how we deal with special situations, new trends and rules – all of them are very important subjects for us. For me, it is always a pleasure to be part of this forum, because here we definitely work on those things that really concern me personally."
The UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum is held before the start of each European club competition season. "It is very important to meet before the start of the [UEFA] Champions [League] to discuss all aspects that can be improved from last season," said AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri.
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