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Nevin: Progress made, but still room for improvement

30 Jun 2023
Paul Nevin

West Ham first-team coach says small steps being made as Premier League coaching pathways help create change

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As a first-team coach at West Ham United, Paul Nevin is on the pathway to fulfilling his ambition of one day managing in professional football.

Working at the very top of the game, and a key figure in West Ham's UEFA Europa Conference League success, Nevin is well-placed to observe similar coaches making the step up from coach to manager.

Nevin is, however, aware of the challenges facing coaches wanting to work in the professional game, especially those faced by coaches from minority backgrounds.

"I know there is a lot of good, younger black coaches out there that are striving to make their way in the game,” Nevin says in an interview with The Voice.

“I think it’s important for players that are currently playing or have just exited the game, to know there is a genuine pathway. I didn’t have a great playing career either, so I think there are barriers to overcome. It’s tough to be a coach, no matter who you are; male, female, black, white it’s tough.

See: Paul Nevin's full interview with The Voice

"It’s never going to be an easy step-by-step ascendancy. It is a tough road, you have got to be prepared for difficulties, but you also need to get the opportunities that you are due, and that is where I feel that there’s a shortfall, there isn’t that opportunity at the top level."

Nevin, who started his coaching career at Fulham’s Academy, is one of the most respected and widely experienced coaches in the country.

He's also been part of Gareth Southgate’s team, working with the men’s senior England squad since 2018 and was a key part of West Ham's Europa Conference League success in 2022/23.

Thanks in part to Premier League programmes such as the Professional Player to Coach Scheme (PPCS), the Coach Inclusion Diversity Scheme (CIDS) and the Coach Index offering opportunities and pathways for minority groups, there is better representation of minorities at youth level than at senior level. 

This is something that needs to be addressed, says Nevin, who is a member of the Premier League’s Black Participants Advisory Group (BPAG), which was responsible for helping to create and monitor the No Room For Racism Action Plan, which launched in February 2021.

"At the top level, you see the Premier League, the top five leagues in Europe at the moment, there’s not enough diversity at manager level. That’s the difficulty that we face"

Paul Nevin, first-team coach at West Ham

“I think it’s better at Academy level," says Nevin. "There’s more representation, especially where the communities reflect the need for that. But still, at the top level, you see the Premier League, the top five leagues in Europe at the moment, there’s not enough diversity at manager level. That’s the difficulty that we face.”

Nevin has experienced how difficult the road is, but believes that hard work, coupled with increased opportunities, provides room for optimism for aspiring coaches.

See: Professional Player to Coach Scheme
See: Coach Inclusion Diversity

"It is about doing that little bit extra, what can you bring to the table that’s above and beyond the role?" Nevin adds.

"I’m fluent in analysis tools so I can do my own analysis, I have done that for 20-odd years. I’ve worked with young people outside of football, within social work, trying to study languages as well. When I’ve worked with French players and Spanish players -and I’m not saying I’m fluent by any means - but just a little bit of connection there, those little things help.

"I’ve worked in this game around the globe as well, so it’s not like I’ve just been at domestic level. I was a manager in the Australian League, I’ve worked in Qatar with the junior national teams. It’s just getting that variety and taking opportunities when they come.

"It may not necessarily be the thing you want at that particular moment, but if it opens an opportunity to show what you can do and to learn, then I think it’s always worth grasping that."

Nevin hopes that his vast experience and expertise will eventually lead to a  managerial role.

"I think the number of experiences and great managers I’ve worked with and great players, I think I owe it to myself to give it a go if that right opportunity came along," he said. "At the moment as you know, it’s just a bit of a crest of a wave at this club [West Ham] and I am going to help that continue to move forward.

"We spoke about being able to inspire others, and I think the experience I’ve had, if I can do that and be successful, then that’s another great image for people to see."

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