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Burton appointed U23s assistant at Blackburn

MARK BURTON has been appointed Under-23s assistant at Blackburn's Category One Academy.

Burton joins from Notts County, where he was U23s coach and Head of Coaching. He has also worked at Barnsley for a decade, as Head of Coaching, and at Rotherham United.

This is the first time Rovers have had an U23s assistant since the departure of David Dunn in 2018. Burton will work alongside U23s lead Mike Sheron.

He said: “It was an easy decision to accept joining a club that puts a lot into developing youth in the right way. It seems to be a really good fit for me and I’m really looking forward to getting on the grass in pre-season and working with the staff and players.

"It’ll be a great challenge for me, but the pathway and development plan is important at Rovers and that was a big selling point for me.”


Plymouth appoint new Assistant Manager and Head of Recruitment

PLYMOUTH ARGYLE have appointed Mark Hughes as Assistant Manager and Jimmy Dickinson to the new position of Head of Recruitment.

Hughes, 35, joined the club as a coach in January, having recently retired from playing following a spell with Bristol Rovers. He now takes the Assistant Manager role following the exit of Keith Downing at the end of the season.

Dickinson joined Argyle in the summer of 2019 as Lead Performance Analyst and in his new role will be “primarily responsible for identifying and monitoring potential first team targets.”

Sam Morcom will now step up into Dickinson’s former role.

Director of Football Neil Dewsnip said: “These changes further show the development of Argyle as a forward-thinking football club and hopefully support the development of the team towards our goal of becoming a Championship side in the seasons ahead."


Litherland exits Bolton after two seasons

ACADEMY MANAGER Mark Litherland has left Bolton Wanderers after two seasons.

Litherland was appointed to the role in August 2020, but has left to "pursue other opportunities", TGG understands.

The club, who dropped down from Category Two to Three at the start of 2021, are set to undergo a major Academy restructure this summer and introduce a B Team.

Academy Operations Manager Andy Watkins will replace Litherland on a temporary basis while the club look for a permanent replacement.

Before joining Bolton, Litherland worked for Bury for seven years, first as Lead Youth Development Phase Coach and then Academy Manager.


Head of Recruitment Joe McClaren leaves Derby County

JOE MCCLAREN has left his role as Derby County’s Head of Recruitment after five-and-a-half years to become Head of Football Operations at sports management company New Era.

McClaren, the son of former Derby manager and Technical Director Steve, joined the Rams in November 2016 after spells as a scout with Southampton and FC Twente in Holland.

However, Derby have been unable to make new signings since being plunged into administration last September.

Writing on LinkedIn, McClaren said he had "a heavy heart to leave Derby County, a club that I have had a lifetime of ties with and was proud to represent."

He added: “I want to thank everyone that supported me internally and externally in my time at Derby, in five and a half years I experienced everything possible alongside many great people. I wish them all the success in the future.

“I’m now looking forward to using my scouting, recruitment, player placement and network skill sets and experience to positive affect for the well established and fast growing New Era team.”

Derby's administrators today exchanged contracts for the sale of the club with Chris Kirchner. The American businessman will fund the club from next week and said he did not "anticipate any issues" completing the process of the sale.

In a statement, administrators Quantuma said the exchange was "conditional on the sale of the stadium, EFL approval and receiving secured creditor consent". Completion of the sale is targeted for May 31st or before.


Seager leaves Bristol City to join Hudl

ALEX SEAGER has left Bristol City after four-and-a-half years to become Support Specialist, Match Analysis for Hudl.

Seager joined The Robins as first-team performance analyst in November 2017, having previously worked for Swindon Town and The Football Association.


Knighton promoted to Academy Manager at Cambridge United

DOMINIC KNIGHTON has been promoted to Academy Manager at Cambridge United.

He takes over from Tom Pell, who was appointed Academy Manager at Charlton Athletic earlier this week.

Knighton joined Cambridge in May 2019 as Head of Academy Recruitment, having previously been Regional Development Manager at Norwich City.

Category Three Cambridge placed 60th in TGG’s 2020/21 Academy Productivity Rankings.


Gent leaves Boro after 14 years to join Bradford City

STEPHEN GENT has left Middlesbrough after almost 14 years to become Head of Recruitment at Bradford City.

Gent joined Boro in September 2008 as an Academy scout and went on to hold coaching, analysis and senior scouting roles. In November 2021 he was appointed Loans and Scouting Operations Manager by the Championship club.

League Two Bradford City have already signalled their ambitions by hiring Mark Hughes as manager.

Gent said: “The long term is going to be massive for us. We want to bring players through and recruit them at the right ages, and hopefully that will stand us in good stead for the future.”

Hughes added: “We took our time with the appointment and are really pleased Stephen is on board.

“He has great knowledge of all levels of the footballing pyramid, and we were all struck by the insight Stephen has into the character of players, which will be important in ensuring we get the right ones through the door."


Preston appoint first Player Loans & Pathways Manager

PRESTON have appointed James Beet as their first ever Player Loans & Pathways Manager.

Beet joined Preston as Senior Recruitment Analyst in March 2021. He had previously worked as a Recruitment Analyst at Barnsley for three years.

Writing on LinkedIn, Beet said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time working within the club's recruitment structure but I'm now very much looking forward to the new challenges, opportunities and rewards that lie ahead in this new exciting role.”


Fitness coach Goulden exits Burnley for Liverpool

MIKE GOULDEN has left Burnley after four years to become an Academy Fitness Coach at Liverpool.

Goulden joined the Clarets in December 2017 and was promoted from Academy to first team in August 2021 following the exits of Sport Scientist Ronan Kavanagh and S&C coach Tom Short.

There has been an almost total clear-out of backroom staff since ALK Capital took over the club in December 2020:


  • Manager: Sean Dyche
  • Assistant: Ian Woan
  • Goalkeeper coaches: Billy Mercer and Fabian Otte
  • First-team coaches: Steve Stone and Tony Loughlan
  • Technical Director: Mike Rigg
  • Academy Manager: Jon Pepper
  • Media Managers: Darren Bentley and Pete Oliver
  • Sport Scientist: Ronan Kavanagh
  • Performance coach: Mike Goulden
  • S&C coach: Tom Short
  • Head Physio: Ally Beattie
  • Head of Recruitment: Martin Hodge


Head of Academy Operations leaves Norwich for QPR

NORWICH CITY Head of Academy Operations William Lambert has left the club after four years to take up the same role at QPR.

Lambert joined in May 2019 as Academy Administrator and was appointed Head of Academy Operations in January 2021.

Writing on LinkedIn, he said: "Thank you to everyone at Norwich City for a great four years. Going to miss a lot of faces!

"It’s been a journey from placement student to Academy Operations Manager, but times move on. One chapter closes, another one opens. I hope the blue and white suits me!"


Nicholson appointed Coach Educator at Everton

KEVIN NICHOLSON has been appointed as Everton’s first Coach Educator.

The role will involve supporting the club’s Academy coaches with their professional development, providing “guidance and support in their professional qualification journey” and providing clear development plans for each coach.

Nicholson, who has been Coaching Auditor for the Premier League since July 2021, takes up his new role on Tuesday.

Writing on LinkedIn, he said: “Privileged to have been given the opportunity to work with the club I have supported all my life. The role will involve taking on responsibility for leading the Coach Development programme.

“A key aspect will be working closely with the coaches to ensure that the club’s identity and coaching philosophy is aligned and embedded across all age groups within the Academy. The aims will include helping to create support programmes that can enable the club’s Academy coaches and young players to fulfil their potential.”

Nicholson was previously manager of Bangor City and U23s boss at Cardiff City.


First-team analyst Coulston exits Newcastle after a decade

NEWCASTLE UNITED first-team analyst Billy Coulston has left the club after a decade.

Coulston joined in March 2011 on a community coach placement before becoming an intern. He was then appointed Lead Academy Analyst and took on his current job in June 2017.

Writing on LinkedIn, Coulston said: “After nearly 10 years at Newcastle United, the time has come to move on.

“What a privilege it’s been to work for such a special football club and work with so many great people along the way. I’ll be cheering on the team from afar!”

READ MORE: Newcastle United staff profiles


Berry appointed Lead Academy Performance Coach by Forest

KIERAN BERRY has left Swansea City after three years to become Lead Academy Physical Performance Coach at Nottingham Forest.

Berry joined the Swans in March 2019 as Academy S&C coach and was latterly their Head of Academy Athletic Development.


Murray appointed assistant at Besiktas

FORMER Barnsley, Mansfield and Boston coach Adam Murray has been appointed assistant at Turkish side Besiktas.

The appointment follows that of Head Coach Valerien Ismael, with whom he worked at Oakwell.

Writing on Twitter, Murray said: “Proud and honoured to be the assistant Coach at Besiktas… an amazing club with brilliant, passionate fans. Let’s do this!”


Lovell leaves West Brom to join Wolves Academy

ASHLEY LOVELL has left West Brom after a decade to become a lead coach in the Foundation and Youth Development Phases at nearby Wolves.

Lovell was a youth player at Albion from 2008 to 2010, until the age of 18, before he moved into their coaching set-up. His most recent role was as their Lead 9s to 11s coach.


Williams returns to Walsall as Academy Manager

ROB WILLIAMS has returned to Walsall as Academy Manager and set the target of becoming the best Category Three club in the country.

He was previously Head of Coaching at the club from 2017 to 2019 and has spent the last two-and-a-half years as Head of Academy Coach Development at Shrewsbury Town.

The Uefa A Licence and Advanced Youth Award holder said: “The overriding feeling is one of excitement. It’s been a while since I’ve been here last time and I think we’ve got a real opportunity to push and drive the programme forward.

“I think we’ve got an opportunity to get this Academy back to where it was a number of years ago and potentially become the best Category Three in the country. That’s the ambition, that’s the drive that I’ve got.

“My job is to instil that into the staff, support the staff and put processes and procedures in place to help us all develop the programme to where it should be.”

Williams replaces Miguel Llera, who had been Academy Manager since July 2019 and is now looking for a new challenge. Walsall placed 51st in TGG’s 2020/21 Academy Productivity Rankings, behind 11 other Category Threes.


Former Man City analyst appointed Commercial Director at Skylab

ADAM COLLINS, the former Football Projects Manager for City Football Group, has been appointed as Commercial Director for sports technology firm Skylab.

The role, which was advertised on TGG before Christmas, will entail leading all commercial strategies for Skylab’s team of performance analysts, project leads and data scientists.

Collins worked for Manchester City for seven years as Head of Academy Performance Analyst before taking on the Football Projects role with CFG in 2014.

He said: “I am excited to join Skylab and work with a company full of talented individuals that truly have the capability and resources to deliver end-to-end solutions for any aspect that an athlete, club, or sporting organisation could need.”

Manchester-headquartered Skylab specialise in digital services and sports performance analysis.


Whalley succeeds Johnson as Head of Sport Science at Shrewsbury

CHRIS WHALLEY has left Blackpool after three years to become Head of Sport Science at League One Shrewsbury Town.

He replaces Andy Johnson, who has left after three years to join GPS firm Catapult as their Business Development Manager.

Whalley had been first-team sport scientist with Blackpool since June 2019.


Sharkey appointed Head of Sport Science for Australia Women

FORMER Aston Villa Lead Sport Scientist Jack Sharkey has been appointed Head of Sport Science for Women’s National Teams for Australia.

Sharkey left Aston Villa after four-and-a-half years in December following the arrival of Steven Gerrard as manager.

Gerrard brought Jordan Milsom in with him from Rangers as Head of Fitness and Conditioning, while Head of Performance Jeremy Oliver, Head of Sport Medicine and Science Ricky Shamji remained on the staff from previous manager Dean Smith.


Johnson leaves West Brom to join England as performance analyst

ADAM JOHNSON has left West Brom after five years to become Men’s Performance Analyst at the Football Association.

Johnson joined the Baggies in December 2016 as Lead Academy Analyst and was promoted to first-team Performance Analyst in March 2018.

Writing on LinkedIn yesterday, he said: “Start of a new chapter today. Great memories from West Brom and have met some top people along the way.”

One of England’s other Men’s Performance Analysts, Alex Scanlon, also worked for West Brom (from 2013 to 2016) before joining the FA.

READ MORE: England staff profiles


Dowling returns to Everton as first-team performance coach

JACK DOWLING has returned to Everton to become their first-team performance coach.

The practitioner left last January after spending more than seven years in the Academy as sport scientist and then strength and conditioning coach to become first-team performance coach at Blackburn Rovers.

Now he has returned to the Toffees, who have been light on numbers in their performance department following the departures of Head of Sport Science and Jamie Harley and Rehabilitation Fitness Coach Cristian Fernandez with manager Rafa Benitez in January.

READ MORE: Everton staff profiles


Bristol Rovers Academy Manager leaves by mutual consent

BRISTOL ROVERS Academy Manager Chris Hargreaves has left the club as part of a strategic review.

The former Torquay United boss joined in September 2016 as Under-21s coach and became Academy Manager in June 2019. He also had a spell as assistant manager for the first team.

Bristol Rovers owner and President Wael Al-Qadi said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chris for all of his efforts in the various roles he undertook during his time and the club. We wish him all of the best for the future.”

In a statement on the club’s website to mark six years of ownership, Al-Qadi also laid down the ‘six pillars’ for the future: infrastructure improvements, sustainability, youth, developing the fanbase, community and continual improvement.


Vaughan appointed Sporting Director at Tranmere

FORMER Everton striker James Vaughan has been appointed as Sporting Director at League Two Tranmere Rovers.

Vaughan, the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history, will initially focus on recruitment at the club. He will also lead on the “ongoing restructuring of the footballing process within the club.”

Chairman Mark Palios said: “We are delighted that James has accepted the role as Sporting Director. He has a clear understanding of what makes a Tranmere player and how we want to play. James has recently worked alongside Steve Beck who will continue to advise regarding the recruitment process.

“His appointment is another step in the restructuring of the club’s footballing processes which has been ongoing since the decision to exit the academy system four years ago.”

Vaughan added: “Having been around the club for two years now and having spoken with the Chairman, I am excited about being able to be part of the project going forwards.

“I have always had a good relationship with Micky both as a player and working with him as part of the team involved in building the current squad over the last six months”

Vaughan, who is completing a Masters in Sporting Directorship, scored on his top-flight debut for Everton in 2005 at the age of 16 years and 270 days. He scored 120 goals in 408 senior appearances and Tranmere was the final stop on his 13-club career.


Chef Whincup leaves West Ham after a decade to join Arsenal

JOSHUA WHINCUP has left West Ham after a decade to become a chef at Arsenal.

Whincup, who has also worked as an actor and model, joined the Hammers in May 2012 and has served their Academy, women’s and men’s first teams.

He will now work with the U18s, U23s, women’s and men’s teams at Arsenal. Writing on LinkedIn he said: “I have spent a third of my life with the Hammers and they will forever hold an extremely special place in my heart.

“I would like to thank everyone who has helped make my time here what it was, nothing short of incredible. Starting off at Upton Park, working part time, to eventually cooking day in, day out for the first team has been an incredible journey, one I’ll never forget.”

Darren Taylor is Executive Chef for the first team at Arsenal. He has explained: “Before each trip I liaise with the hotels, source top quality produce and conduct a series of meetings in order to create a harmonious environment for my players, management and technical team.

“Once this has been achieved I can then concentrate on executing each nutritious dish to the highest possible standard whilst conducting an extremely efficient service at each sitting.”

READ MORE: Arsenal's nutrition secrets


Wiseman joins QPR as PDP Sport Scientist

ANDREW WISEMAN has been appointed Professional Development Phase Sport Scientist at Championship side QPR.

Wiseman has worked in the United States for the last two-and-a-half years, with Utah Royals and then OL Reign. Prior to this he was on the staff at British clubs including Exeter City and Celtic.

Writing on LinkedIn, Head of Academy Performance Ross Bennett said: “Delighted to get Andrew Wiseman to come on board as a SS working with our PDP age groups. Great addition to a very strong department.”


Facey promoted to Head of Academy Coaching at Cardiff

DANE FACEY has been promoted to Head of Academy Coaching at Cardiff City.

Facey has previously been the club's Lead Youth Development Phase Coach since November 2014. There have also been three other appointments at the Academy:

  • Ben Clarke: Promoted from youth coach to Head of Academy Recruitment.
  • James Wood: Appointed Assistant Academy Goalkeeping Coach.
  • Brais Fernandez: Appointed Academy Physiotherapist after two years at Bristol Rovers.

Head of Academy David Hughes said: "Dane Facey moving from Lead Youth Development Phase Coach to Head of Coaching provides continuity for both coach and player development. Creating and promoting a pathway from within is as essential for staff as it is the boys moving through the pathway.

“Our Academy staff are undoubtedly passionate and we pride ourselves upon developing rounded individuals in the Academy programme. We are excited to support the growth of the programme further with these exciting appointments.”


Murray leaves Brighton after nine seasons

PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGIST Sarah Murray is leaving Brighton after nine seasons.

Murray joined the Seagulls in July 2013 and has worked with their Academy, men’s senior and women’s teams.

Writing on LinkedIn, she said: “After an incredible nine-season journey, it's time to move on from BHAFC, truly some of the most authentic people to have worked alongside.

“I feel grateful to have learned so much from so many. Fantastic memories and some stories for life! Now to reset/ recharge and focus on the moment I'm in.”

Murray presented at TGG’s The Future Game webinar in 2020.


Chelsea's Head of Research and Innovation takes 12-month sabbatical

BEN SMITH, Chelsea’s Head of Research and Innovation, is taking a 12-month sabbatical as part of a “unique collaboration” between the European champions and California-based start-up BreakAway Data.

Smith has worked for Chelsea for 15 years, starting as Head of Academy Performance Analysis in January 2007 before progressing to his current position in 2018. The role focuses on key projects and strategic responsibilities at the club’s Academy.

Writing on LinkedIn, Smith said: I’m incredibly lucky to be able to split my time between both organisations, continuing my focus on research and innovation for Chelsea, alongside developing new analytics products to empower players and coaches with BreakAway.

“I’m grateful to Chelsea for supporting me to go on this journey. Keep your eyes peeled for some really exciting products/ insights that we hope will change the game.”

BreakAway “empowers elite athletes to connect in-game stats and GPS with training data and personal data from wearable devices and user inputs.”


Cosgrave appointed Director of Medicine & Performance at Orlando City

DAVID COSGRAVE, who has worked for clubs including Tottenham, Liverpool and FC Copenhagen during two decades in performance, has joined Orlando City in the MLS as Senior Director of Sports Medicine and High Performance.

For the last seven years, the Irishman has worked for FC Copenhagen - first as their Head of Medical and then Head of Performance.

At Orlando City he will “oversee the strategic and operational leadership of medical, physical performance, nutrition and sports science departments across the entirety of the men’s pyramid.”

In addition, Cosgrave, who holds the Masters in Sporting Directorship from from Manchester Metropolitan University, will “oversee and implement initiatives which support elite levels of physical capability, low levels of injury and support for cultural development as well as high levels of mental resilience.”

This excellent interview with the practitioner from May 2019, which appeared on FC Copenhagen’s official website, outlines his career, including spells working in the Premier League with Liverpool, Tottenham, Bolton and Fulham.

There are a number of brilliant stories (too many to include here), but a couple of notable ones involve Fulham's former German boss Felix Magath.

"Magath loved to create this psychological uncertainty in people,” Cosgrave remembered. “I remember once when he was standing in the jacuzzi and our second goalkeeper, David Stockdale, came by.

“Magath said, ‘David, wait there,’ and he stood up in the tub, naked, like a metre-and-a-half taller than David, who was stood on the floor, eyes to cock.

“And I was standing in the corner thinking ‘Oh, what am I going to do here?’ and tried to make myself wallpaper. You know, trying to be invisible, while David was trying to keep his eyes up, but they kept coming down.”

Magath also believed in applying cheese in rehab.

"Brede (Hangeland) had troubles with his knee, and our doctors wanted to give him an injection, but Magath told them not to," Cosgrave said.

"Instead, he sent the kit man off to get some quark (soft cheese) from Tesco’s, and one of the physios puts the cheese on Brede’s knee and straps it up.

"Brede went home, and his wife, Celin, was like, 'What is that smell?' Brede tried to explain that Magath said the quark would bring out the tension, but she was just like, 'Get that off!'"


Carr joins Bristol Rovers as Professional Development Phase Lead

RHYS CARR, who spent almost six years at Bristol City, has joined local rivals Bristol Rovers as their Lead Professional Development Phase Coach.

The Welshman was Head of Fitness and Conditioning at Ashton Gate before becoming Development Coach under Lee Johnson. He left in the summer of 2019 and was then appointed Individual Development Coach at Sheffield United.

Announcing his new job on Twitter, Carr said: “Very grateful to those at the club for this opportunity and looking forward to giving my all, alongside the other staff, to a talented group of young players.”

Kevin Maher was in charge of Rovers' Development Squad (effectively the Under-23s) before leaving to become manager of Southend in October.

Carr delivered an excellent presentation at TGG’s Individual Development Coaching Webinar in June. You can watch it on-demand HERE.


Hayball promoted to Loans Co-Ordinator by Arsenal

SAM HAYBALL has been promoted to the new role of Loans Co-Ordinator by Arsenal as the club continue to beef up this important part of their operation.

Ben Knapper became the club's first Loans Manager in February 2019 and is a highly-valued member of Edu's Football Intelligence Team.

Now Hayball has been promoted from first-team analyst to assist him. He joined Arsenal straight from University in February 2014 as junior Academy analyst, was promoted to the first-team assistant analyst in June 2016 and then to analyst in March 2019.

The Gunners are advertising for a first-team analyst to replace Hayball.

READ MORE: Arsenal staff profiles


Sinclair confirmed as assistant manager at Doncaster Rovers

FRANK SINCLAIR has been confirmed as permanent assistant manager at League One Doncaster Rovers.

The former Chelsea defender moved up from Youth Development Phase Lead in early December to assist caretaker manager Gary McSheffrey.

Now that McSheffrey has been made permanent manager, on Wednesday, Sinclair has been confirmed in his role too.

Meanwhile, Steve Hernandez has been named as the club's first-team goalkeeper coach, having also assisted McSheffrey during his time as caretaker.

Hernandez was previously Head of Academy Goalkeeping at Rovers.


Kavanagh appointed Head of Academy Performance at Forest

FORMER Burnley sport scientist Ronan Kavanagh has been appointed Head of Academy Performance at Nottingham Forest.

Kavanagh left the Clarets in the summer after almost six years' service.

Meanwhile, Tom Short, who also left Burnley in the summer after almost nine years as Strength and Conditioning Coach, is now working as Head of Sport Science at Bristol Rovers.

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