Sport Soccer

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Budding Hoops stars on a knife edge -- McGuinness

Jim McGuinness has named his new backroom team
Jim McGuinness has named his new backroom team
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

CELTIC performance coach Jim McGuinness has spoken of the pressure facing young footballers hoping to make it on to the first team.

The Donegal manager said the youth players were "on a knife edge" pinning their future on securing a professional contract. He added that managing that pressure and their expectations was the biggest part of his role with the Scottish club.

"These are young players, they are very keen to get a professional contract. They are looking at fellas driving around in £100,000 cars and they want to be that person. They are on a knife edge.

"The club will take them through for X amount of years and then when they get to 18 they are looking at them thinking, 'will we keep them?'

"You've come through the ranks and all of a sudden it all comes down to 18 or 24 months max.

"If you get an injury within that time frame that's two months gone out of your 24 months. People are making decisions on you, so there is a lot of pressure."

McGuinness added that the problem was often exacerbated because the young players were also under pressure from their parents, who often invest everything in them achieving a contract with the cub.

"A lot of these kids don't have strong educational backgrounds and they are pinning their future on making it as a professional footballer," he told a health conference in Galway yesterday.

"A lot of the time they are carrying that pressure for their parents as well because the parents have invested everything in their life.

"We have a school called St Ninian's, 55 of our kids now at the academy are at St Ninian's and a lot of those kids, their parents have relocated to the area where the school is in so they can go to the school. They train in the school in the morning, they go to school and then in the evening they go to Lennoxtown.

"So it's a lot of pressure and I suppose managing that expectation is the biggest part of my job with Celtic."

McGuinness said he sees his role with Celtic as a continuation of his management style with Donegal, striving for excellence from the players.

"In terms of the dressing-rooms, there's no difference. They are young people who have issues in their lives; there's characters, there's lazy ones, there's highly motivated ones. It's the exact same."

Irish Independent

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