Adjusting to International Management Opportunities

By: League Managers Association

Peter Taylor has a wealth of managerial experience, from non-league football to the very top level. Indeed, it was he who handed David Beckham the England captaincy for the first time when he took temporary charge of the Three Lions in 2000. He recently accepted the task of overseeing the fortunes of the Bahrain national team.

What brief do you have as the Head Coach of Bahrain. What are you expected to deliver?

Bahrain are  at 102 in the world rankings at the moment though they have just narrowly missed out on qualifying for the last two World Cups. They’ve done well because despite it being only a small country, they are football fanatics. Every time you drive around you see kids training. I’m hoping the reason they asked me to come here is because they know that they have got to be a little bit more professional on certain things, and hopefully I can help them to improve that.

What is the standard of football out there like and where do the players you are selecting for the national team play their club football?

We have got about four professionals in the squad – one plays in Switzerland, a couple play in Qatar and one in Saudi Arabia. Apart from that they are local players playing in the local leagues here.

A lot of the players in the squad have to work as well as play football. It can be frustrating but you just have to accept it.

In terms of the standard of football, I would say a good non-league side – maybe in the Conference – would give us a real test. The players here are very slight in build, but we are getting there and they are pretty skilful on the ball.

When I first arrived they didn’t take things as seriously as I would have liked, and I believe the only way you can improve that is by training very seriously. At first I thought this was going to be a problem but they have been magnificent. The spirit we have within the camp now is very good and they are training more and more professionally with every session.  

How does the club league structure work in Bahrain?

There are only two divisions with about 20 teams in them. Not all sides have stadiums, so a lot of the teams play at the national stadium. Having footballs, cones and mannequins are things that we take as a given in England but we’ve only got five mannequins here and it can be frustrating. However, you have to realise that they are still learning and developing. Hopefully in six months’ time we will have improved in all areas, both on and off the pitch. I probably drive them mad telling them how we used to do things with the English national side!

How does the climate and culture in Bahrain affect your preparations?

I came out here in July and because of the heat we couldn’t train before 8pm at night, which meant we were finishing at 10pm or later – it was about 40 degrees. Then you have to take into account Ramadan, when the players won’t eat until sunset. So how you prepare is dictated by many different factors. 

How are you finding living overseas for the first time?

It’s a very new experience. I am staying in a nice apartment on the 20th floor of a complex. I have never been away from my family as much and that takes some adjusting to. But it was the opportunity to gain some new football experience and I do enjoy international football.

The Premier League is celebrating its 20th anniversary this season; what level of interest does it hold out there?

It’s amazing how much coverage there is out here. So many of the players follow the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester City. It is really good because when they say to me that Wayne Rooney is their favourite player, I can then make points about why he is good and how they need to improve and progress to be like him.