Former Red Alan Smith is currently still playing for MK Dons but harbours ambitions to further his coaching career. He took time out to speak to ManUtd.com..
How is your coaching career going?
I’ve got to finish my coaching badges off but I’m going over to Northern Ireland as you can do them there. I’m somewhere in the middle of everything but I’d like to do what Paul McGuinness and Warren Joyce do, get involved and try and progress the young lads and get them through. I’ve had that experience of the other side of the fence where you do have to get through and relate to people who maybe you don’t remember playing. Hopefully, they will still remember me as a player and can relate to what I’m telling them. If the information youngsters are getting is coming from the likes of Ryan [Giggs], Phil [Neville] and Nicky [Butt], they’re all doing similar jobs at United, then I think that’s brilliant. People remember them playing not so long ago so the information they are putting across is taken on board straight away.
So does having that profile of being an ex-international earn greater respect from the youngsters?
At Newcastle, we did a lot of work with Willie Donachie and he told me that some of the lads didn’t even remember him as a player so, to them, he was just an old man telling them what to do and not somebody who had played at the World Cup and for Celtic, Manchester City etc. The young lads coming through the Academy didn’t have a clue about that. So it can be hard to get your points across but especially the lads at United will look up to Rio, Nicky etc having come through the academy and will have seen the development their careers have had. They will help them to try and listen and learn to develop players.
You took charge of the MK Dons Reserves last season. Is that something you want to do full-time?
I’m going to do that coaching again this year. We can’t get in the Under-21 Premier League obviously so we’ve got a big void between lads playing in the Under-18s and making the step up to the first team from the youth team. There is a big void in the middle and we were busy trying to create friendlies with bigger teams so we