When David Moyes was appointed manager of Manchester United, many of the regular Reserve and Youth followers feared for the fate of Reserve boss Warren Joyce and U-18 coach Paul McGuinness. With the whole scale changes that were made at first team level, it seemed a fair bet that the whole of the backroom staff would be replaced with Moyes’s men.
As the new season was nearing, the rumour mill was in overdrive about the future of Joyce and McGuinness. Once it became apparent that they were to keep their jobs, the vast majority of the fans of the lower levels of the club were delighted.
McGuinness, son of ex United player and Manager, Wilf was once a player for United in two spells in the mid 80s to early 90s. He never reached first team level but was a regular for the Reserves during his spells at the club.
He joined United as U-18 coach in the summer of 2005 and has been in charge since then. He has led United to two FA Youth Cup finals, losing to Liverpool on penalties in 2007 and beating Sheffield United in 2011. He ensures the players not only improve their game but also makes sure their feet remain firmly rooted to the ground, an example being that the players are not allowed to wear fancy coloured boots that are so popular in the professional game, with the youth players having to wear boots that are mainly black in colour. This might sound petty but when teams visit Carrington it’s quite often easy to see which player of the opposition really fancies himself as a player by the colour of their boots, the flashier the boots, the more they think they are Ronaldo!
McGuinness style of coaching during games is very different to Joyce. Whilst Joyce shouts constant advice and keeps the players on their toes, McGuinness is often very quiet, rarely shouting instructions and letting the players get on with what they have been taught during the week. Of course, if things are not going well or if tactical advice is needed, he is very quick to get his views across in a quiet but very assured manner.
He makes sure that the style of play mirrors what the Reserves and First team are doing so when they step up, it’s a seamless transition. He will often try players in new positions so they get used to having to play out of their comfort zone when it may be needed in the future. An example is that he will at times, play with a loan striker so that the player will have to get used to having to work the front line on his own when he steps up and it will become natural to the boys.
Although results are not the most important thing at this level with player development being by far the ultimate goal, it is clear to see that the players are coached to have that winning mentality and never give up attitude that has made United the club they are.
Warren Joyce was a tigerish tough tackling midfielder in his playing days and that toughness is very apparent in everything he does as coach of the Reserves. He is still as tough as teak, shown by the fact that, no matter what the weather or no matter how low the temperature drops below zero, he still watches every game in his shorts. He makes me feel cold just looking at him!
He joined United from Royal Antwerp in May 2008 as assistant to Ole Gunner Solskjaer before coming boss from December 2010.
His job is made doubly difficult by the fact that he loses players to loan spells twice a season, which means he will often have to build completely different teams at different stages of the season. Last season when United cleaned up all the honours at Reserve level, winning the National Reserve League, the Lancashire Senior Cup and the Manchester Senior Cup, Joyce stated that he has to play with 3 different groups as the season progressed. To win everything in those circumstances is something quite special. As with McGuinness, he will switch players from their natural position to a completely foreign role to them. Last season he played Adnan Januzaj as a lone striker in a few games. Us supporters scratched our heads, wondering what the hell was the thinking behind the decision but after a game or two, to watch Januzaj holding off giant centre halves with his back to goal really was a joy to watch. It’s a role he looked very comfortable in. In fact, Joyce has gone on record as saying that he thinks number 9 would be Januzaj’s best position eventually.
On a personal note, both men are true gentlemen, Paul McGuinness is always willing to help us supporters who go to games with teamnews and letting us have a look at the official teamsheet.
Warren Joyce, despite his tough exterior, has a heart of gold. He takes the time to write to a small group of us to thank us for following his team, giving us complimentary tickets and even sending us Christmas cards. Nothing is too much trouble for him and he will always find time to listen to us if we have any requests about games or other matters.
I hope both are around for a long time, for the reason that they are excellent at their jobs and both are great ambassadors for Manchester United.