Thursday, 16 August 2012

Daily Echo - Thursday 16th August

Matt Le Tissier launches coaching scheme to bring out the best in young flair players

Matt Le Tissier with Francis Benali, left, and Jody Rivers, rightMatt Le Tissier with Francis Benali, left, and Jody Rivers, right
SAINTS legend Matt Le Tissier has launched a new coaching initiative designed to encourage the next generation of gifted footballers.
Known for his supreme talent with the ball, Le Tissier admits a sense of despondency at what he sees as a failure to properly nurture flair players in this country.
To counter that, he has unveiled his Natural Coaching school, which he insists will “take the shackles off” youngsters and encourage them to fully express themselves on the pitch.
He said: “It is always thrown at you in this country if you’ve got natural ability that that’s great, but what else do you do? Can you defend? It amazes me. In this country we always want to knock people that have got talent – we always want to build them up a little bit and then bring them back down to earth.”
Le Tissier added: “What we want to do is take the shackles off and let them develop as naturally as they possibly can, without people forcing formations on them, or rigid defensive structures.
“At this age I think they need to be free to play football.”
Le Tissier will identify more than 100 players, aged from seven to 12, and from goalkeepers through to strikers, to take forward through a series of trials.
His coaching team, which includes ex-SaintFrancis Benali and Jody Rivers of AFC Bournemouth, will then help teach them using his philosophies.
The idea is to nurture players in the same way that club sides such as Barcelona or international teams like Spain and Argentina do.
“They might not well be as good as the lads that are doing it for Spain, but we want them to have that same philosophy and not be afraid to go out and try and play that way,” said Le Tissier.
“We just want to bring out the whole potential that they’ve got in them for being a footballer.
“If that means that they go and play non-league to a good standard then absolutely fine. If we get a few that go and play professionally then brilliant.
“There are some kids that do have plenty of ability, but don’t have the belief.
“If we can see somebody who maybe is a little bit introverted, but you can see has actually got a little bit about him then we can bring that out of him and we might turn out a real nugget who never even thought he had a chance of playing.”
The chosen youngsters will be invited to attend a season-long programme of weekly coaching sessions, while being encouraged to continue playing for their clubs and schools. Trials will be held atToynbee School, Eastleigh , on Monday, August 20, and Friday, August 31.
For more information, or to register, visit mltnaturalcoaching.comor see .
There will be a fee for boys invited onto the coaching programme, but the team have promised to work with families to ensure youngsters from all backgrounds are given an opportunity through potential sponsorships.
  • For an in-depth report on Le Tissier’s new venture, don’t miss the double page spread in this weekend’s Sports Pink .

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Independent - Wed 15th August

Matt Le Tissier always did do things a bit differently. Why look for a pass when you can just smash it into the top corner from 35 yards out? The scorer of 102 Premier League goals for this season's newly promoted Southampton, and a player who won only eight England caps – the last of which was picked up against England's opponents tonight, Italy – now wants to break with coaching convention.
He is sick of hearing that English lads are not as good as their counterparts on the continent. He is disenchanted by the way top professionals are patronised by boring coaching courses and sceptical about how smaller pitches and fewer players will really change anything if the attitudes of those training youngsters stay the same. Next week he launches his own "Natural Coaching" school in Southampton with trials for young players to take part in a season-long football education.
"There are talented boys out there. They can go on for ever about how the lads on the continent are more talented than ours but if you coach them properly there is natural ability in this country. I just don't think it is harnessed properly," Le Tissier says.
"They are trying to change things with smaller pitches and fewer players and hopefully it will make a difference but it's all very well to say 'right we are going to play on smaller pitches and with fewer players but I'm still going to pick the biggest boys so I can win the game', then nothing will change. Take out the winning and stick in the enjoyment and you will end up with far better players at the age of 15."
Twenty or so lucky boys will be picked from each age bracket and train once a week throughout the season alongside Le Tissier. The Natural Coaching players will not make up teams or enter a league. Instead, they will be encouraged to express themselves, experiment and enjoy the sessions while continuing to play for their school or youth teams. Le Tissier says if the project goes on to produce a superstar then great; if it just means everyone improves and a couple of players from the group end up having enjoyable non-league careers, which they might not otherwise have had, then that's fine too.
Not that he doesn't have his eye on higher things. Le Tissier says: "Kids have to be encouraged to learn how to play all over the pitch so that they improve their understanding of football. If you do that in youth football then later on you can play a formation that looks like a 4-6-0 on paper but dominates a game. If someone had said in England 20 years ago that you could win a tournament the way Spain did without a No 9 they would have been called crazy but their players are comfortable in lots of different positions, making it possible."
Le Tissier believes the current set-up not only fails to properly harness talented players but also deters a certain type of former pro becoming a coach – flair players don't usually end up as managers. "Whenever I say this it sounds really arrogant and I don't mean it to but it is just that when you have had years of somebody who is not as good as you with the ball telling you what to do you lose the will to go and do what that guy is doing. And the biggest obstacles are the coaching badges. You have to go through so much rubbish to get qualified.
"It's boring. I did level two and got halfway through it but I was so bored that I had to give it up. And there are four levels before you reach Uefa level A. It was so basic – like teaching someone to pass the ball 10 yards. I just thought: 'What am I doing here?' To be honest, I felt it was a bit patronising. After 17 years of playing professional football to then have to go through that and for them to say to me, 'OK but you've got to do this before you can qualify to coach anybody else.'"
So should the FA fast-track top players? "Their idea of fast-tracking is that you miss level one," he says. "I swear to you if what I did was level two I dread to think what level one is like."
And there is another problem with the current set-up: "If all coaches are taught the same things then they are going to end up coaching the same way. For me, the great coaches are the ones that do things a little bit differently. That's why with Roy [Hodgson] England will do all right, we'll get through qualifying but because we never do anything different we'll keep getting knocked out in the quarter-finals." Would the overlooked Harry Redknapp have had that something different? "I think so," Le Tissier says. "He's not afraid to play someone a little bit different to win a football match or differ the shape to alter the course of a game. I don't think we have got that with Roy."
Long before he first pulled on the No 7 shirt for Southampton, Le Tissier won a best player award at a Southampton soccer school as an 11-year-old – the prize was having his picture taken with Kevin Keegan and then manager Lawrie McMenemy.
Le Tissier went on to light up the Premier League that kicked off 20 years ago today and he still believes that it is the most exciting league in world football, although it could do its part to rejuvenate the national team by working harder to develop home-grown talent.
"We have a brilliant product," he says. "It might not be the most technically gifted league in the world but it's the most exciting. What we have lost is a lot of English players. In the first year of the Premier League, there were about 12 foreign lads that played and when you look back at, say, the Euro '96 squad and the amount of forwards that Terry Venables had to pick from – Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler, Stan Collymore, Teddy Sheringham, Peter Beardsley, with Gazza as well – of the strikers who went to the Euros [this year], Wayne Rooney would perhaps have been part of the squad then but none of the others would have got a sniff.
"A lot of the foreign players have come in and done brilliant things – I've loved watching the Bergkamps, the Henrys and Zolas – but I think we have got too obsessed with relying on the foreign players instead of working on developing our own young players."
While working on the Natural Coaching project, Le Tissier will not miss out on Southampton's return to the top flight. The club's current owner's reticence towards recognising the club's past means that Le Tissier is not exactly welcomed back to St Mary's on matchdays. But he says: "I've bought a season ticket, so they will have a job keeping me away!"
He will be in Guernsey on Sunday and so will miss their return to top-flight action against champions Manchester City for whom Sergio Aguero won the title in the last seconds of last season supporting Le Tissier's theory that no league is as thrilling as the Premier League. "Kun" also reminds him of one of the big changes the League brought with it – names, and now even nicknames, on shirts.
"It wasn't until the second season that we had our names on the back of our shirts. That was making a big statement about how they wanted things to be – an indication that it was going to be more showbiz from then on in."
Would the man Southampton fans nicknamed Le God have followed Kun's lead and put one of his various monikers above his No 7? "I think I would probably have avoided Le God," he says.
Tonight, England play Italy and the man Southampton fans worshipped will be reminded of his biggest regret in football. "That header I had against Italy at Wembley in '97; I'd just like for that to go the other side of the post. We lost 1-0. That might have made a difference to my England career."
It was the last of his eight caps. Playing his part in coaching the next generation, he could still make a difference to the future of the national game.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Coaching The Le Tissier Way

Coaching the Le Tissier way as Former Saints star launches new coaching initiative in Southampton region/the south

Ever wondered what it would be like to be coached the same way as one of the most skilful players Britain has ever seen? Well now is your chance…

Footballing youngsters who dazzle their classmates on the playground are the focus of a search launched by Saints legend Matt Le Tissier for the South’s next generation of naturally talented players.

Le Tissier, who is now an expert pundit on Sky’s Soccer Saturday and famed for his intuitive skills and jaw dropping goals, is leading an initiative to nurture the untaught abilities of young players who might otherwise be missed by the talent scouts and football clubs.

As the season kicks off, he has joined up with good friends, former Saints teammates Francis Benali and Keith Granger, along with Jody Rivers AFC Bournemouth to find the future stars that may follow in the footsteps of football heroes with their roots on the south coast such as Gareth Bale, Wayne Bridge, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Instead of just the customary one-size-fits-all drills, Matt Le Tissier Natural Coaching will run throughout the season on Wednesday evenings, developing youngsters’ inherent abilities by encouraging them to express themselves through their game.

Matt said: “The idea behind this initiative came from when friends asked why I hadn’t gone into coaching before. I found traditional methods too limiting and I wanted to find a way to bring out players’ natural abilities.

“We’re all astounded by the flair of the big names: Messi, Ronaldo, Xavi and Iniesta, and this is all about trying to encourage that philosophy – to go onto the pitch and not to be afraid to try new and exciting things.”

Xavi himself has been equally complimentary about Le Tissier – nicknamed “Le God” – who the Spanish star described as his childhood “idol” in an interview with the Sun. “His talent was out of the norm,” he said. “For me he was sensational.”

It’s that “out of the norm” Matt Le Tissier Philosophy, that Franny, Keith and Jody will be coaching. Weekly coaching sessions will run from September 2012 to May 2013 for 110 talented youngsters aged 7-12 who will be selected by Matt and The Team for their dribbling, passing, shooting or goalkeeping.

Matt will ensure that his Philosophy is delivered to the highest standards through his head coaches Francis Benali, AFC Bournemouth academy coach Jody Rivers, ex-Saints and international goalkeeping coach Keith Granger and all the coaching team.

Matt said: “We are looking for boys who play in clubs, but we are certainly not looking to stop them playing for their clubs. I know Franny and Keith really benefitted from playing in the Tyro league and Franny is still a massive fan of boys’ league football.”

“Franny, Keith and Jody will deliver my unique style of natural coaching to enhance and improve the talented youngsters. We expect all of the boys to enjoy themselves, improve greatly and we are aiming for at least one or two go on to have professional trials and even turn professional.”
Franny stated: “I enjoyed my 18-year professional career after being lucky enough to have been spotted at the age of 13. But raw, natural talent is often overlooked and we’re hoping to draw it out and give it the freedom to flourish. “

“There are so many young players with potential that get missed with the local leagues. Keith and I played against each other many times and both recall players who could have gone much further if given an opportunity like Matt Le Tissier Natural Coaching.”

U7 – U12 Trials will be held at Toynbee School, Eastleigh, on August 20th and 31st.
For more information and to register for a Trial log on to
There will be a cost for the unique style of coaching that the boys will receive if invited to join the season-long program which starts in September. However, the MLTNC team will work with families to ensure talented youngsters from all backgrounds are given an opportunity through potential sponsorship's.