Man City coach Ben Wilkinson grew up in awe of his dad Howard at Leeds - the last English manager to win the title - now the Yorkshire side stand in his way of FA Youth Cup glory [1] 0 تعليق 1 ارسل طباعة تبليغ حذف

These days, the godfather of English football’s renaissance stands in his kitchen watching Manchester City’s academy on his iPad. Howard Wilkinson, the FA’s first technical director, studies the Under-18 games with that keen eye for which he earned such renown.

Eighty now, Wilkinson is retiring, stepping back away from chairmanship of the LMA. But the fire still burns and City gives him that outlet.

It happens that their manager is a Mr Ben Wilkinson. When dad isn’t at matches, he’s plugged in at home instead.

‘Apparently he gets quite into it with mum,’ Ben says. ‘Swearing and stuff. I would never have thought that, given the amount of games they’ve seen in their lives. My mum probably makes me more nervous than dad – I’m scared of her!

‘I like it, I remember him being down there on the touchline for years and me and mum being upstairs. Now it’s the other way around.’

Manchester City U18 coach Ben Wilkinson (above) has his sights set on FA Youth Cup glory

Manchester City U18 coach Ben Wilkinson (above) has his sights set on FA Youth Cup glory

Manchester City U18 coach Ben Wilkinson (above) has his sights set on FA Youth Cup glory

The game Ben heads into on Friday is one of those enchanting opportunities for parallels everywhere. The younger Wilkinson leading youngsters in an FA Youth Cup final, the standard of quality on offer in part down to a vision the elder Wilkinson – among others – made sure was a blueprint for future success in developing players.

And it’s against Leeds United, no less. Ben grew up in awe of Howard at Leeds, bobbing in and out of dressing rooms – making sure he was sat in his Elland Road seat at 2pm on matchdays so not to miss anything - as his old man conquered the game. Still the last Englishman to win the league, Wilkinson. 

In 1992. Ben was five then. As he grew older, there were regular trips to Thorp Arch during half term, absorbing training sessions. A budding midfielder, he became obsessed with coaching.

‘I was intrigued as to what happened between Saturdays, all that time in between,’ he says. ‘Why was my dad never at home? Then the more I saw that the more it opened my eyes. Dad was massive as a kid and without those experiences maybe I wouldn’t be here now. You’re fortunate enough to be in the company of unbelievable people - and almost thinking it’s normal.’

Come on, name names then.

‘The likes of Dave Bassett, Jim Smith, Trevor Francis, Sir Alex Ferguson he would count as friends. These people would make regular phone calls.

‘I’ll always remember being in the car, and you’d have that massive car phone. I’d be dialling the number sometimes. I don’t know how you actually drove looking back!

Wilkinson's dad Howard is the last English manager to win the league with Leeds in 1992

Wilkinson's dad Howard is the last English manager to win the league with Leeds in 1992

‘I just listened. Never said anything. When I got a little bit older I’d sneak into the dressing room for pre-season games, once at Rotherham where I heard a few words I’d never heard before! I was in awe of those players. I went to so many games. Home and away, Europe a couple of years. Amazing.’

Wilkinson Jnr almost made it as a player. A Championship debut for Hull City as a teenager, he went and ruptured his cruciate in the reserves days later. He ended up packing the game in at 23, although not solely down to injuries. ‘I had the unfortunate position of being at Chester and Gretna when both clubs went bankrupt,’ Ben says. ‘And it wasn’t due to my wages! So there was something telling me that this wasn’t quite working.

‘I was at Boston United and there was a game or two where I came off at half time and I thought: that’s it. I need to change now and start [coaching] so by the time that I am mid-thirties I am in a better position than I am now.’

Not a bad position, too. After starting his coaching journey with boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday - earning £30 a session, driving the bus, sourcing the balls, while moving back into the family home - Ben is now one of the country’s preeminent academy coaches at 37 and can deliver the club’s second Youth Cup in four years. Cole Palmer, James McAtee, Morgan Rogers and a few others starred that night in 2020, against Chelsea, so it’s worth paying attention to this lot.

And the man coaching them too. Ben started at City six years ago, first an Under-23 assistant before taking the Under-16 job in 2020, where he helped mould Rico Lewis. He won the Under-18 title last season with an inexperienced group at that level and will finish second this time after a year plagued by injuries and seeing his best players promoted to the Under 21s.

Cole Palmer and Morgan Rogers were among the stars in City's FA Youth Cup success in 2020

Cole Palmer and Morgan Rogers were among the stars in City's FA Youth Cup success in 2020

‘I remember my first day with the 16s, I was unbelievably nervous,’ he admits. ‘I was keen to impress, I had points in my head and within 10 minutes I was ripping it up because they were miles ahead of that.

‘You can get into a false sense of security at a monster club like this one. Players can easily get carried away with being in this environment and having these facilities, having the access to the coaches.

‘You might get called up to train with the first team but they’re still a million miles away from cracking it. But they maybe sometimes get that feeling that they’re nearly there. Part of our job is to bring them back down to earth and make sure they’re aware of what the reality looks like that.’

Fortunately for the younger Wilkinson, his rounded journey takes in both realities of professional sport.

اخلاء مسئولية! : هذا المحتوى لم يتم انشائة او استضافته بواسطة موقع اخبار الكورة و اي مسؤلية قانونية تقع على عاتق الموقع مصدر الخبر : [1] , يتم جمع الاخبار عن طريق خدمة ال RSS المتاحة مجانا للجمهور من المصدر : [1] مع الحفظ على حقوق الملكية الخاصة بمصدر الخبر.

أخبار ذات صلة

0 تعليق