Welcome to Part One of Dalglish Unleashed, a three part series that breaks down a lengthy discussion I had with new Ottawa Fury manager Paul Dalglish. Part One will cover Paul’s background, his move to coaching and how he developed his football philosophy. Part Two will examine the player turnover seen since November and how Paul has replaced key members of last years squad. While Part Three will look at how Dalglish hopes to line up tactically, and the product he hope to put on the pitch in 2016.
Dalglish Unleashed: Part 1
It has been just over two months since I last made the walk down Bank St towards Lansdowne Park, and since then a lot has changed for Ottawa Fury. Marc Dos Santos has moved on form the club, as well as his brother Phil. Tom Heinemann finished his contract, while Richie Ryan, Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Ryan Richter handed in transfer requests. Fans saw half their team vanish like a fart in the wind before they could even settle into their Christmas holidays, and some feared the worst. However there have also been some positives, some key signings and a new coach. This was my first meeting with Paul Dalglish, the new Ottawa Fury manager, and I was excited to see how he would answer some of my questions.
I knocked on his office door, entering to hear him saying “I’ll have to call you back Nashy” as he hung up his phone, presumably talking to Fury assistant coach Martin Nash. His office was rather bare, which is no surprise considering Dalglish has only been living in Ottawa for two weeks, and based on a twitter photo, has been sleeping on an inflatable mattress. However there is no doubt that Dalglish has been hard at work since being named Ottawa Fury manager in late 2015, naming a number of signings including Englishman James Bailey and Northern Irishman Jonny Steele.
Player To Coach
We started to discuss Paul’s life of football and what made him want to make the jump from being a professional player to management. “I didn’t have any education to do anything else” Paul said chuckling. “Even when I was playing I wanted to coach, its something that I’ve always want to do. I wasn’t really too concerned when my career came to an end because I enjoyed coaching as much as I enjoyed playing, so for me it was something that I always wanted to do”. Paul played professionally in England, Scotland and in the MLS.
He began his coaching career after hanging up his boots in 2008. “It got to a stage where I was in my early 30’s and I thought ‘Well I can start getting on the coaching ladder now, get some experience under my belt, and then when people that I’ve played with start retiring, I’ll already have 3 or 4 years of coaching under my belt.” Coaching since 2008, Dalglish is only 38, but already has a number of years of experience under his belt, having worked with Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake as an assistant manager, and most recently the Austin Aztex in the USL.
Dalglish discussed how he made the move from player to coach, saying “You’ve got to learn your profession first, so I took my badges and started working in the youth to try and get comfortable as a coach. I was always going to be involved in football because that is where my lifetime education is. So it was either get involved in the agency world or get involved in the coaching world. I started coaching kids and thought “I know the game, I’ve worked under great managers, I know what to do”. What happens then is you start learning and studying, and all of a sudden you start thinking about things differently” Dalglish said.
Developing a Philosophy
Each coach has his own style, his own preferences, and over the course of their career will develop their own unique coaching philosophy. There are the suit and tie managers, the track suit managers. Some yell for 90 minutes while some prefer to sit in the stands. I asked Paul how he is developing his own philosophy and style, and he said the key is being yourself. “I did what came natural, and I didn’t really study too much about how people learned, and how to get information or different tactical ideas. It was just what I had experienced in football.”
“Players know if you are genuine or not” Dalglish said, pressing the importance of being yourself and doing what comes naturally. “If you’re a Jurgen Klopp style coach that likes to be on the sideline and likes to be involved in the game, then be that.” Paul then compared the Liverpool coach to his Manchester United counterpart, saying “If you want to be this stark opposite, like Louis Van Gall who sits down, doesn’t even really get up when his team scores, and kind of analyzes the game, and that’s fine as well. The more you learn, sometimes the more you can confuse yourself if you let it.”
Stay Tuned for Part Two of Dalglish Unleashed on Midfield Press!