Posted: September 11th 2015

It was one of the most embarrassing things ever.


Proper red face and wanted the ground to swallow

me up.


About 7 years ago…


I’m on Holiday in Cuba and we go to Havana for

a couple of days.  I go up to the room to get our

bags and come back down to the massive lobby

of the Hotel.


Grand ‘Old Havana’ building it was…




(Loved Cuba and it’s people)


So I’m coming down the classy winding stairs with

one bag over one shoulder and a carrier bag in my



I step on to the white-and-blue-tiled floor.


There’s a path of white tiles going around the

edges of the lobby.


But I decide to take a shortcut across the BLUE



So I step onto the BLUE tiles…and BOOM. I

disappear into a SWIMMING POOL of water.


What happened?


They WEREN’T blue tiles.


It was WATER. I just didn’t SEE it.


I was stuck in my own head.


Best bit was all the people we were going on

a Bus trip with were waiting in the lobby. They

ALL saw it.  And were dying laughing at me,

and joined by my girlfriend Rachel who had

no sympathy ha ha.




Rest of the trip I had to put up with a cockney

bloke saying ‘watch the step mate’ every time

I got on the bus.

REMINDS ME of a story about Arsene Wenger

told by one of his former players Lee Dixon,

now a TV Football pundit.


All the players were having Dinner

and Wenger goes up to get his dessert.


On the way back all the players notice that

Wenger’s ‘Jelly’ has wobbled out of his bowl

onto the floor and Wenger didn’t even notice.


Gets back to his seat, goes to scoop up a

mouthful of jelly…and OOPS…NO JELLY…


Wenger trying to work out where his Jelly



All the players have seen what’s happened

and they’re laughing their heads off.


“That’s Arsene” Dixon said “Always thinking

about Football”


And for a Manager or Director of an Academy

like me, that’s natural. and can be very useful

to be ‘in your head’ thinking things over…


Especially BETWEEN games and training



But for a PLAYERS like YOUR SON who want to

put in TOP notch performances…




They need to play with their HEAD UP.


ALIVE to what’s going on around them.


I see a lot of players get STUCK in their heads,

like I was that day in Cuba.


The PROBLEM with this?


When you’re ‘in your head’ you can’t SEE what’s

going on around you.


And SEEING what’s going on around you. Is a KEY



‘How much space do I have?’


‘Where are my passing options?’


‘Can I beat this man 1 v 1?’


‘Can I score?’


‘Where’s my man (I’m meant to be



Playing with your HEAD UP, allows you to play

INSTINCTIVELY and in a free-flowing way.


(Very liberating)


Not from a ‘script in your head’, which makes

players’ cumbersome and poor decision-makers.


One of the boys I played with at the Swans as

a youngster was called ‘BINGO’ because he

always had his EYES DOWN.


Good for BINGO but NOT for Football ha ha.


Of course, to get BETTER at ‘SEEING THE GAME’

players need to be shown what the game ‘looks

like’ when it’s played well.


And that’s where we SHINE at TCSA




 Have a great weekend


(That came round quick)




PS -


As a parent YOU need to ‘play with your HEAD UP’



Because if your son starts young enough with the right kind

of training (around 12 or Under), and applies himself properly

he WILL have clubs coming in for him from a higher level.

And you won't be able to do do anything to help him if you keep
your head down and let him sign for teams just because they
have a certain badge on their kit (when it's clearly not a good
development opportunity).