Saturday, September 23, 2017
In-depth interview with Charlton Athletic under-23 boss Jason Euell

In-depth interview with Charlton Athletic under-23 boss Jason Euell

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Charlton U23's Coach Jason Euell during extra time

Jason Euell’s job title might be Charlton’s under-23 boss.

But it’s not just one job.

“There is not just being the coach and their manager,” he said.

“My work involves being a role model, a best friend, their big brother, a sympathetic ear and a boss who tells them when they have stepped out of line. I also liaise with the academy manager and the first-team manager.

“The most important thing is that you have to make it real for the younger players – you can’t give the players any bullshit. There is no point in sugar-coating it.

“You chop yourself into little pieces which are my different roles.

“When you are dealing with egos, it is different for each individual – what is right for one might not be right for the other.”

The 40-year-old became under-16 boss when he hung up his boots in 2012. He has now been in charge of the under-23s for five years. And the Addicks are now seeing the results of his work over that period.

Not only have Joe Gomez, Jordan Cousins, Kasey Palmer and Ademola Lookman left the club for substantial fees totalling an estimated £15m, the Addicks have also seen a new crop coming into the squad this season.

In all, Karl Robinson’s side had 10 youth academy products on the teamsheet for the 2-0 EFL Trophy victory at Crawley on August 29.

A few of them should get another chance in the next fixture.

“We are doing what it says on the tin,” said Euell. “We are creating a pathway for youngsters to get into the first team.

“Even with the changes over the last few years, young players are getting their opportunities. As a club we have not quite been reaping the rewards on the pitch yet. But the financial benefits are there to see.”

But there is no magic wand – Euell has to be an astute judge of character, as to what each teenager requires to get the best out of them.

Palmer, Gomez and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis – also now in the Premier League, with Huddersfield, had all beeen at the club since they were still at primary school.

Others, such as Louis Yamfam, are later arrivals.

“For the ones who have been here a long time, everyone has played a part,” said Euell. “I am just putting the last element in place to make them fit and ready.

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, then at Dagenham & Redbridge, had a trial last August and earned himself a contract. Anfernee Dijksteel was signed from the Nike Academy because Charlton needed a defender.

Joe Aribo has been with Charlton two years after playing as an 18-year-old in the Staines first team. It still took him 18 months to get a first-team game.

Taylor Maloney and George Lapslie have both been at the club almost six years and have made progress at different rates to the others.

Regan Charles-Cook – now on loan at Woking – and Aaron Barnes both arrived from Arsenal and came through the under-16s under Euell.

“They are all buying into the opportunities,” said Euell. “They are doing what they were asked to do, day to day. They have all got through on their own. They know it is a competitive club and that they have to be at it, all the time. It is good on their part that they have got this far. But it is also good on the club’s part.

“People progress at different times, at different ages.”

Manager Karl Robinson is experienced with an efficient and productive academy, at previous club Milton Keynes. “He understands how development works,” said Euell.

“All the managers who came to Charlton had to buy into that ethos.

“It is about trust. I have to be able to trust them and vice versa. And the manager has to trust me and the boys – that if they do come into the first team, they will do what is asked of them.

“He needs to be sure that a boy is going to be able to get him three be sure that if they get to the manager, they will be able to deliver.”

Euell is able to keep out of the politics of fans protests and overseas owners.

“I do not have a relationship with the owner,” he said. “I come under the academy. I sit in between the first team and the under-18s.

“If a new manager comes in, I sit down and ask him what he needs from me. I am the last piece of the jigsaw. It is about whether I can get players ready for the first team – and if he needs players, have I got one for him.

“You have to know where you are within the chain. Yes, I am involved with meetings of the hierarchy – my role permits it. But I understand how far that goes.

“I love what I am doing. It is helping me become a better person and coach.

“And I also want to give the boys the best chance I can.”

Despite not having the big cash earnings which players these days can command, Euell is happy his career happened when it did.

“I was fortunate to have played in an era with a bit of the old and a lot of the new,” he said. “I was lucky to be around Wimbledon.

“Yes, it was the school of hard knocks. But it made me the person I am today. That is about respect and how you treat people.”

Chief Reporter | Former news reporter on Daily Mail and Times, former editor in Edinburgh and Barnet. Sports editor and father for 15 years. Once made nine doormats for Harrods entrances. They lasted two years.

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In-depth interview with Charlton Athletic under-23 boss Jason Euell