Thursday 22 March 2018

New Ireland manager Bell looks to Klopp way to ring in new era for Irish women

Colin Bell and (inset) Jurgen Klopp
Colin Bell and (inset) Jurgen Klopp
Having worked with Jurgen Klopp and befriended musician Gary Numan, new Ireland women’s team manager Colin Bell is very familiar with ‘heavy metal’ football. Photo: Sportsfile
Gary Numan. Photo: Getty Images
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Colin Bell started his coaching career working with Jurgen Klopp and is a good friend of the musician Gary Numan.

But the Englishman's new mission is to find star quality in the Irish women's side and elevate the game here to another level.

The 55-year-old met the press yesterday after it was announced last week that he would be replacing Sue Ronan and achieving his ambition of moving into international football.

Bell says that his neighbours in Germany might have heard a loud shout of excitement after he put down the phone following the call from Ruud Dokter to confirm he was the FAI's chosen one.

He comes with a good coaching pedigree having won the Women's Champions League with Frankfurt in 2015. That was a highlight of a career which started with ambitions of breaking through as a player with hometown club Leicester.


When he was released in 1982, he accepted an offer to join German third division club VfL Hamm.

"I thought I'd stay for a year or two at the most but 35 years later I'm still there," he laughs. "Through football and the possibilities you have, sometimes your life takes a totally different turn."

He played out the rest of his days there and it was in the next phase of his football journey that he really found his groove. Bell worked his way up the coaching ladder and was part of Klopp's new set-up at Mainz when he took over there in 2001, taking charge of the U-23 side.

"We were together every single day and talking every single day, and that was a fantastic time because it was Kloppo's start," says Bell. "We worked very closely together and at Mainz he developed this football philosophy that you can see in Liverpool now with more quality players.

"It was a thing I looked at too, playing high-intensity football. I've obviously followed his career from when he left Mainz and it was obvious he was going to be successful. We have a couple of strong mutual friends and I've taken a lot of calls from English journalists about working with him, but I would never say anything that's top secret."

Bell shares Klopp's love of heavy metal music, citing Rammstein as his favourite band, but he also befriended Numan after a gig in Cologne in 1998 and is a backstage regular at his shows.

Clearly, he's got the gift of the gab, and he will need diplomatic skills in his new post which will be a different kettle of fish from his previous gigs managing full-time players in Germany and a brief stint in Norway.

Bell, who joins from German side Sand, where Irish international Diane Caldwell was one of his players, will have to accept that domestic-based members of his panel are only part-time and fitting their football around other commitments.

He is moving to Ireland on a two year deal - but will keep his house in Germany - and says he will get to know their managers and people around them with a view to scheduling weekly sessions to monitor their development.

"If you want to be successful, there's got to be more intensity," he says. "The German girls in Sand are all professional, training six, seven times a week at a high level, so we've got to look into that.

"That's my main aim. Every single girl needs to have an individual plan that's in line with her actual plan she has with her club. We've got to monitor that and channel that. It's important to have a good and open communication with club coaches."

Bell has been doing plenty of homework since landing the role and has named a squad of 20 for next month's Cyprus Cup which gives him an early chance to see where he's at.

FAI CEO John Delaney last week said that Bell's appointment was a statement of intent and referenced that it would help the 34th-ranked side in the world in their attempts to make a maiden appearance at a major tournament.

The newcomer was reluctant to set targets, however.

"Our next step is to participate at a World Cup or a European Championships but we have to be realistic," he cautioned. "My first thing is to get in and see what we are capable of doing.

"I've studied the team intensely and I know there's room for improvement. I love high intensity and power, and the Irish girls have that. We just have to channel it now."

Irish Independent

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