'Grace under pressure' is the cover headline of the June edition of UEFA's newsletter for coaches as The Technician examines the courage, both physical and moral, required by football's top performers.
As UEFA's technical director Andy Roxburgh explains in his editorial column, great players constantly want the ball and are always ready to take a hit from opponents to get it. However, coaches also need to be brave in their decision-making processes, and since not everyone is so consummately talented as to display grace under pressure naturally and at all times, lessons learned from experience and education are invaluable.
UEFA strives to educate those working in all areas of the game, and special attention is being paid to coaches studying for the UEFA Pro licence under the aegis of their national associations. The Technician reports from a pilot course held at UEFA headquarters in May, which brought an international exchange element to the studies of coaches from the Czech Republic, Poland and Scotland.
Polish Football Federation (PZPN) technical director Jerzy Engel said the four-day exchange, which in June was followed by a second course staged in Denmark for students from that country, Finland, Norway and Sweden, was "really important for young coaches who are just about to start their careers". Engel added: "They'll soon be starting to work in their own countries but they also need to be prepared for a situation where, as holders of a UEFA-endorsed diploma, Europe and the whole world is open to them."
Holger Osieck is one coach who has brought his skills to many corners of the world. The 62-year-old German has worked in Canada and Turkey as well as in his home country, and is the subject of an exclusive The Technician interview in which he reveals how his vast experience is proving useful in his current post leading Australia's national team.
Former FIFA technical director Osieck was also Franz Beckenbauer's assistant when Germany lifted the 1990 FIFA World Cup and won the 2007 AFC Champions League as coach of Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds. He said: "You could say I have an inner core of hardness because you have to be strong when you take on the leadership role as coach."
According to Gérard Houllier, the UEFA technical observer watching the Arsenal FC-FC Barcelona match in the UEFA Champions League round of 16, it took a brave call from the English club's manager to turn a one-goal half-time deficit into a 2-1 first-leg victory: Arsène Wenger's "adventurous high defensive block turned the tide in the Gunners' favour".
Ultimately Barcelona prevailed in that tie, on their way to a Wembley final against Manchester United FC which was won 3-1. The Technician doffs its proverbial cap to coach Josep Guardiola for his success in bringing the European Champion Clubs' Cup back to Camp Nou, as well as to the triumphant coaches in the UEFA Europa League, UEFA Women's Champions League and UEFA European Under-17 Championship; André Villas-Boas (FC Porto), Patrice Lair (Olympique Lyonnais) and Albert Stuivenberg (Netherlands), take a bow.
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