'A-League coaches can crack it in Europe'

FORMER Central Coast Mariners assistant coach Tony Walmsley believes Australian coaches have the talent and ability to succeed in European football.

Fresh from a stint as Head of Academy Recruitment at English club Sheffield United, Walmsley has spent more than 20 years coaching and in a variety of roles in Australia.
Socceroo captain Lucas Neill recently said he wanted to see Australian coaches emulate local players and head overseas to coach in Europe.
And Walmsley says the time is right for them to heed the skipper's advice.

“I think the top coaches in Australia are well educated and better prepared than ever before,” Walmsley said.

“If Lucas means coaching in the top five leagues in Europe then of course there is some distance at the moment from this being a reality.

"But there are many leagues in Europe that would immediately benefit from coaches with A-League experience.

"The A-League still has some ground to make up to be truly recognised overseas, but that is related more to salary cap than coaching ability.”

Neill said before the friendly against Canada that Australian football needs coaches to have the ambition to crack the big-time in Europe.

Walmsley had stints with Football Federation Tasmania, Football NSW, Football Queensland and the Mariners, and has worked with coaches such as Ron Smith and Graham Arnold, before his stint in the UK.

“The A League provides a very comfortable existence for a coach - lifestyle, profile and no relegation,” Walmsley said.

“It's rare in football to have such conditions. No doubt making the move to Europe presents a huge challenge - more for the cutthroat nature than for the technical demands.

"Even just living and working overseas broadens the mindset and adds skills. Where opportunity exists we have the talent to be successful, no doubt about that. Anything is possible.”

In terms of English football, Walmsley believes the challenges lie more with the owners and boards of UK clubs to take a broader view.

“This is difficult as their reference points are often based on traditional British influences,” he said.“This is changing though - slowly.

"There are some great young coaches coming through with a grasp of the modern game.

"Poppa [Tony Popovic] would have as good an understanding of the dynamics as I do, having been on staff at [Crystal] Palace and now at Western Sydney Wanderers.

"You need a strong character to survive. The people close to the game in Australia truly understand the qualities of the coaches available. 

"Having worked in both camps, I am absolutely confident that the top coaches can succeed at high levels in the UK.”