Outspoken English soccer star Joey Barton claimed former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson “couldn’t coach” as he called for improvements in coaching standards in the English game.
Barton was discussing how to increase the number of English players playing in the Premier League. Only about 30 percent of the players currently competing in the English top flight are eligible for selection by the national team — the worst ratio among Europe’s five top leagues.
“We’re giving good players to mediocre coaches, because we’re not developing coaches,” Barton told the Leaders in Football conference in London on Thursday.
“We don’t honor coaches. We honor managers, we love managers — everyone loves Alex Ferguson,” he said. “I’m not here to disrespect Fergie — great manager, the icon, the pinnacle of British managers — but he couldn’t put on a coaching session to save his life.”
“I’ve spoken to people about it. He could barely lay out cones. This is not a coach, this is a manager. This is the difference. There’s a big, big difference between a coach and a manager,” Barton said.
“Fergie’s a great, great manager, but he’s always had good coaches [alongside him], because he can’t coach,” he said.
Ferguson retired in May after leading United to 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns.
In an interview with the Harvard Business Review published last month, he admitted that he delegated responsibility for training sessions to support staff in order to observe players more closely.
“My presence and ability to supervise were always there, and what you can pick up by watching is incredibly valuable,” Ferguson said.
Once I stepped out of the bubble, I became more aware of a range of details, and my performance level jumped,” he said.