Coaching Genius Ian Cathro Hoping To Make Newcastle United His Latest Success Story


With Newcastle United languishing at the bottom of the Premier League table, following their absolutely disastrous start to the new campaign, you know Ian Cathro, their tremendously talented assistant manager, will be doing everything in his power to get them out of their current predicament.

“My view always is that you are there to give everything you can,” insists the Scot.

“Every aspect from analysis, ideas for training sessions, and your general take on how to make yourselves better and maybe how to adapt most effectively against an opponent.”

With Newcastle adding plenty of new faces in the summer, a period of adjustment was to be expected. No one thought it would last quite this long, though.

While things obviously haven’t worked out yet for the club, given time, Cathro and Steve McClaren, who both share a similar ideology based around technically gifted players, should hopefully get Newcastle back on the right track, sooner rather than later.

Acquiring Cathro from Valencia last season was a major coup for Newcastle, especially considering what a great partnership he’d developed with the charismatic Nuno Espirito Santo, who he worked with at Rio Ave and then Valencia. Despite the Bats obtaining Champions League qualification by virtue of finishing fourth in La Liga, Cathro wanted a move back to the UK for personal reasons.

Interestingly, Nuno first came across the Scotsman back in 2009 at a coaching course run by the Scottish FA. So impressed was Nuno by Cathro, he invited him to become his assistant at Rio Ave, where they miraculously qualified the club for Europe for the first time and also won two Portuguese cups.

When Nuno accepted the top job at Valencia last season, he made certain the man he hails as a “genius” came along with him. Valencia’s magnificent season clearly had a lot to do with Cathro’s expertise on the training pitch, as he and Nuno got their side playing with real verve and, more importantly, winning games.

Qualification for the Champions League served as an apt reward for all their hard work.

Still only 29, it’s remarkable just how much Cathro has already achieved in the game, as on top of his work abroad with Nuno and now at Newcastle, he’s also started up an academy for young footballers and was installed as the junior academy director at Dundee United at the tender age of 23.

Playing a crucial role in the development of two of Scottish football’s finest young prospects, in Ryan Gauld and John Souttar, gives a strong testament to his quality work. Moreover, the fact that 12 of the 16 boys that have came through Cathro’s academy have gone on to sign professional contracts further demonstrates his tremendous coaching ability.

In Sid Lowe’s article on Valencia, he interestingly states the sort of philosophy Cathro looks to instill in his players.

“He (Cathro) wanted players’ contact with the ball to multiply and their thought processes to accelerate,” he said.

Highly dedicated and motivated, it’s not hard to to see why Cathro has developed into such an outstanding coach. “Football is a passion and it’s certainly more than a job,” he says.

He’s also one who loves a challenge and his decision to leave Valencia for Newcastle illustrates that suitably.

“It’s a forward step to a different type of football. Not stronger or weaker, different,” he explained on the move.

“I wanted a fresh challenge and didn’t want to just sit it out over there and wait for the right manager’s job to come up.

“To come into British football as a manager with no experience of working with English-speaking players is perhaps not advisable anyway, so this makes perfect sense.”

In a recent interview with Guillem Balague, Cathro noted how important it is for a coach to also be learning from his players too.

“I think having access to work with top class players is something you have to truly experience and respect.

“I learnt a massive amount from listening to what the players were thinking and interpreting certain situations. You not only have to appreciate the actual technical and physical qualities of the players, but also the intelligence of them, their knowledge and the feelings they have of matches.

“Often they are the guys who have the answers, who know how to approach situations. The best way to get through an opponent, or a certain situation, or another team,” Cathro said.

“If you don’t spend the time to learn their views on things, to learn their feelings, then from a coaching staff point of view – you are potentially missing out on accommodating all of that and turning it to your advantage.”

Although the Magpies are going through a shocking patch right now, knowing they have a man such as Cathro working furiously behind the scenes should certainly be giving their loyal supporters some measure of hope.

After all, whatever he’s attempted so far in his relatively young coaching career, he’s always enjoyed high levels of achievement. Plus, you unquestionably know that Cathro will be doing all he can to turn that hope into real success.

His attitude, work rate and philosophy will see to it.