by Andrew Crawshaw
With the latest appointments and lists of retained players we now have a reasonable idea of the way the academy is currently heading. The picture certainly isn’t yet complete and there are quite a few gaps to be filled but the basic framework of the overall jigsaw is there. Here is my take on the overall setup.
Per Mertesacker will be the overall Head of the Academy. Reporting to him (I assume) will be the two new appointees Marcel Lucassen and Lee Heron
Marcel Lucasson will be the new Head of Coach and Player Development and will have overall responsibility for all coaches and teams from the U9s to the U23s. Effectively a Director of Football for the Academy.
He has an incredible pedigree for the post and joins us from Al-Nasr FC in Dubai where he has overseen their youth academy and supported the UAE Federation in the development of their coach education programme. Prior to that he held positions with the German FA where he was responsible for the development of the German National youth teams.
He is a UEFA Pro Licence Instructor and Consultant at the World Football Academy. We should expect our Youth Coaches (and probably our senior coaches) to be kept fully up to speed with latest developments in coaching methods and practices which must be a big bonus going forward.
Lee Heron joins us as Head of Academy Football Operations (effectively general manager) and should have responsibility for all day to day matters. Again he comes with a wealth of experience having been Reading’s Head of Academy since 2016 having worked his way up through their organisation in the 17 years he was with them. I would expect him to have management responsibility for just about everyone other than the coaching staff.
The other key staff currently at the club are:-
Coaching Staff reporting to Marcel Lucasson
- Head Coach – Steve Gatting (currently suspended whilst the club undertakes a full investigation into allegations of bullying)
- Assistant Coach – Carl Laraman (also currently suspended)
- Coach – Kwame Ampadu age 48 a former Gunner between 1988 and 1991 midfielder with 2 first team appearances
- Assistant Coach – Ken Gillard
U16 Level – Trevor Bumstead age 38 holds UEFA A licence
U14 Coach – Greg Lincoln age 38 holds UEFA B licence Another former Gunner was a midfielder and member of the first team squad 1998, made the bench but no further.
U13 Coach – Simon Copley Age 33 holds UEFA A licence
Head Foundation Phase Coach – Ryan Garry age 35 Holds UEFA A Licence Another former Gunner, this time a defender made his first team debut for the first match of our 49 unbeaten run before joining Bournemouth for the 07/08 season.
Assistant Foundation Phase Coach – Adam Birchall Age 34 Holds UEFA B licence
U11 Coach – Darren Hawks
U10 Coach – Paul Barry
U9 Coach – Aaron Clarke
U9 to U16 Head Goalkeeping Coach – Serge van den Ban age 48 holds UEFA B and Goalkeeper Coach Pro Licences. He joined us from the Dutch national team set up in 2015
I would expect that our U23 and U18 coaches to proceed with UEFA Pro Licences next season
Probably reporting to Lee Heron
- Luke Hobbs – will probably need a new role as he has been acting as interim academy manager
- Ameesh Manek – Head of Academy Operations
- Steve Morrow – head of Youth Scouting
- Des Ryan – Head of Sports Medicine and Athletic Development
- Paul Wilson – Academy Kit Co-ordinator
- Joe Sutton – Pre-academy co-ordinator
That leaves a couple of other members of staff who (I wouldn’t be surprised) may well report directly to Per, given the areas of youth development he had expressed particular interests in, in his various interviews
- Matt Henly – Head of Education
- Kate Green – Head of Development and Psychology
Given the investigations into bullying against U23 coaches Steve Gatting and Carl Laraman, I would not be at all surprised if both were replaced before the commencement of next season. Whilst the team has had an exceptional year, it is difficult to see them still being at the club next year.
Luke Hobbs is 38 and holds the relevant UEFA A licence and needs a new role after acting as Interim Academy Head since Andries Jonker left in February 2017. He might be willing to take on the role if an internal appointment is to be made.
It seems to me that the Academy is being styled in a similar manner to the first team with a Managing Director – Per Mertesacker; a ‘not director of football’ – Marcel Lucasson, and General Manager – Lee Heron. All it need now is for a new ‘Director of Scouting’ to be appointed!
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