Behind the scenes at Dragon Park: Why County have made themselves an attractive destination

7:44am Friday 13th June 2014

NEWPORT County’s rapid progress under manager Justin Edinburgh hasn’t gone unnoticed throughout football with the Exiles being tipped to find a top class successor to their popular boss.

Argus Sport spent a day behind the scenes at Dragon Park in Newport last week and County were one of the hot topics among the 24 UEFA A license candidates.

Former Tottenham winger David Ginola played with Edinburgh at White Hart Lane and both ex-Premier League midfielder Michael Brown and defender Frank Sinclair were also full of praise for the ex-Rushden boss.

Indeed, there is a feeling that such is the shift in terms of how tricky it is to get a Football League job – or to keep one, a supermarket bag of salad can have a longer expiry date than a manager these days – that County, who now have Dragon Park on their doorstep, will be a highly attractive option for any potential new boss.

Current incumbent Edinburgh still has two-years on his existing deal, but if he is tempted by a higher club, County can expect to be inundated with offers.

Sinclair, who has taken a similar route to Edinburgh and is managing Conference North outfit Colwyn Bay, admits he’s been inspired by Edinburgh.

"The days of ex-players walking into top jobs are long gone now and that's right, management is a privilege and one that you have to earn,” he explained.

"There are plenty of people on the course, who haven't had the experiences in football as someone like me, or Michael Brown or Phil Babb and David Ginola, but we are all starting a new trade, it's not an extension of playing.

"I've been at Colwyn Bay now for 17 months and that and this course is a combination that is suiting me perfectly.

"Ten years ago you might walk out on playing and straight into a Football League job, but that's rare now.

"I feel lucky to have found a job at Conference level (Colwyn Bay are in the Conference North), I was happy to take that chance and more and more coaches will and have to go down the levels to get that experience.

"There are so many experienced coaches out of work, it's highly unlikely now that someone just coming into the game is going to get a big chance, unless you're a massive name.

"Justin Edinburgh is a fine example of working your way up and progressing your career as part of a learning process.

“He’s put Newport on the map and they’d get a top manager if he left.”

Ex-Blade Michael Brown tells a similar story.

"At the moment Wales are at the forefront, there isn't much more they could possibly be doing and that will produce better coaches. And better coaches produce better players.

"You've got to evolve year-on-year and Wales are doing that really well.

"If the opportunity comes to try management one day I'd like the challenge.

“Justin has gone great guns at Newport and put himself and them on the map. If a similar opportunity came my way, I’d jump at the chance and many would.”

FAW technical director Osian Roberts admits County’s rise and rise in recent times has been important news in the corridors of power.

And Roberts would be only too happy to help the club in the future if they sought his advice.

Newport County are vitally important to us, all clubs are but County being in the Football League is huge for football in this area,” he said.

"We are trying to create a legacy, we promote from within, all our coaches have come through the system, Geraint Williams the Wales U21 manager and I did our pro-licenses together in 2004.

"Paul Bodin, Geraint Williams’ assistant, David Hughes, Robert Paige, all these guys came through the system.

“And it’s lovely when we can replicate that at the clubs and at County we have. Justin is doing his pro license with and Flynny is doing the A course and they are a club we monitor closely.

"It was extremely proud for us to see Mike Flynn given a coaching job at Newport County based on the qualifications he's picked up here in Wales.

"He didn't have the opportunity to play here very much in his career, but he can hopefully now put a lot into Welsh football in a coaching sense.

“If they ever wanted to get our thoughts on anything, we’re always willing.”

The FAW are prioritising links with Welsh clubs.

"We need to raise standards at all levels and that includes with our national league,” Roberts said.

"We just funded a two-week trip for the Cardiff youth academy to travel to Portugal, something we've done through European funding.

"We sent 36 coaches to Porto in the past three years and 24 coaches to Juventus, all Welsh coaches, everything paid for.

"These are a myriad of different coaches working throughout the game. Not only do we educate them here, we give them the chance to see other things.”


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