Sports

Phil Cottrell interviews Ottawa Fury FC head coach Paul Dalglish

By Phil Cottrell, Daily Observer

Paul Dalglish was named head coach of the Ottawa Fury FC on Friday November 20, 2015.

Paul Dalglish was named head coach of the Ottawa Fury FC on Friday November 20, 2015.

Paul Dalglish is the new head coach for Ottawa Fury FC. He was born in Glasgow although he spent his childhood in Liverpool where his father managed Liverpool FC of the English Premier League (EPL).

He started as a youth player for Glasgow Celtic before going to Liverpool but was signed to Newcastle United. He then permanently joined Norwich City. He went on with spells in Blackpool and Scunthorpe in England. After a brief retirement he joined the Edinburgh club Hibernian. In 2006 he left to join Major League Soccer in the United States and played successfully for Houston Dynamo.

It was in Houston that he started his coaching career with their Academy team. In 2009 he joined FC Tampa Bay, and in 2013 he became the Manager of Austin Aztex. In November 2015 Paul Dalglish was appointed to head coach of Ottawa Fury FC.

I recently caught up with him in his office at Landsdowne Park.

PC: I don't want to spend any real time on last year's player departures, but tell me were you surprised and do you think it could have affected the fan base?

PD: No, not really surprised, but what I would say is that with one exception all those players left on our terms. With the success the team had last year, people today want reward in terms of financial compensation. But the truth is we have a budget and we could not afford to give everybody what they wanted. So we needed to make sure that we received adequate compensation in terms of transfer fees for those players who were leaving. Yes, the fans are losing players they knew and could associate with but it has become much more positive since we have announced the new player acquisitions.

PC: You have a squad currently of 18, and you have talked in terms of carrying a squad of 20 or 21. Why a smaller squad from last year, and what positions do you still want to fill?

PD: Actually we have 19 signed, and there is a 20th in the works. When I came here I wanted to increase the quality and decrease the quantity. Every player will play a part, we don't have any deadwood. If we do have injuries we will draw on the Senior Academy players and additionally there are players in North America that we can obtain on loan. I will have management strategies that hopefully will keep players fit during the season. The last player to be signed likely will be a central defender. We know Julian de Guzman will be away with the Canadian National team, so we may go to 22 players.

PC: You've indicated that you will favour a more attacking style of soccer. How will this translate to formation and tactics on the field and what can fans expect to see?

PD: Yes, there will be change to the system. It will be more narrow and compact. There will be less distance between the back and the forward players. I'd like to get the back line a little higher. The lines need to be more connected, so we can press a little more effectively. We want to play the wingers a little more narrow and higher. In terms of shooting on goal there are lot of statistics to prove that you get greater success from shooting from certain zones. I want to see the team have many scoring chances from those dangerous zones, and tweaking the system a little bit will help with that. Winning isn't enough, it's winning with quality. And, of course, it has to be entertaining.

PC: Do you have any specific goals or targets for 2016 in terms of where the team may finish?

PD: Very simple . . . win each game. People would say that you are only as good as your last game. Well, that's not true, you are only good as your next game. And for me personally, winning is a necessity.

PC: What are your objectives for the pre-season which starts shortly?

PD: The preseason starts on Feb. 15. I want to build fitness gradually and I want to see the players develop an understanding of each other in both verbal and non verbal communication. Additionally the players need to get an understanding of the way we want to play. Fitness is some respects secondary to the communication skills.

PC: Where do you think the North American Soccer League (NASL) teams and Major League Soccer (MLS) for that matter would fit into the Football Association (FA) league structure in England?

PD: It really is impossible to compare. There are some players who come over here and struggle and conversely there are players who go over to the United Kingdom and have problems adapting to the more direct style of play. It is a totally different type of football here. Here you have travelling, you have different climates, and you also have different elevations. Some UK teams could well have difficulty here.

PC: Can you update me on the coaching staff?

PD: Martin Nash has signed a new contract as assistant coach. Bruce Grobbelaar is goalkeeper coach and we also have Darco Buser on the coaching staff. And that's it, we won't be adding any more coaching staff, but maybe support staff.

PC: Can you say who the captain will be for 2016?

PD: Don't know yet. It will be my decision. I need to get a feel for the playing group. Obviously I will take feedback from players as well of course from the coaching staff, and ownership group. At the end of the day the captain is not just the captain of the team, he's the captain of the club. This will be done in the preseason and sooner rather than later.

PC: If you were to send a message to the fans and supporters groups ahead of the start of the season what would that be?

PD: Well, obviously we need your support. There's lots to be excited about. We have a lot of great new players, that you are gonna love, and relate to. I know you can't judge me or my style of play right now, but all I ask is that at the end of the season you will think more of me then at that time. I know there are some great fans here, but they want to see action, they want to see shots on goal and they want to be entertained, and that's my job, to provide that.

PC: You have had an illustrious and very varied football career. What has been the highlight?

PD: There really isn't one particular highlight. There's the signing of the first professional contract, the professional debut, first goal in the Premier League, first time you play for your country . . . they all stand out, but there's not one that is a pinnacle as such.

PC: What players have inspired you over the years?

PD: There was John Barnes (Liverpool and England), a real class player. There's Ian Wright (Crystal Palace, Arsenal and England), I loved his passion for the game.

Also Gazza (Paul Gascoigne), (England, Everton and other clubs). Now there's a personality.

PC: How are you settling in Ottawa? Is your family here yet?

PD: The family arrive here in 10 days time. In the meantime I'm working long hours and sleeping on an air mattress, and that's perfectly fine.

PC: Thank you and the very best of luck in the season ahead.

Soccer on the radio

TSN 1200 Radio features a great soccer show called Corner Kicks on Monday nights at 6 p.m. (although, occasionally it can get changed to another night.) Ottawa Fury's Graeme Ivory and Richard Starnes of the Ottawa Citizen talk soccer from the local scene all the way through to the international leagues. These guys really know their stuff. There are often some interesting and very knowledgeable guests on the show. Even me! You can tune in to AM 1200, which unfortunately can be pretty scratchy up here in the Valley. Better still you can download the Bell Media app and listen to them over the Internet, and better even still go through the Tune In radio app where you can record the show. In any event you can later find the podcast. Definitely worth listening to, and a great way of keeping up with all the soccer news.

Remember, whatever your sport, to win the game is great, to play the game is greater, but to love the game is the greatest of all. And the greatest game is played by more than 250 million players in 200 countries. So, be part of the soccer fan base worldwide, 3.5 billion and counting! Also, remember, support local soccer! If you have any comments on the beautiful game please contact me at cottrell@nrtco.net or call 613-587-4856.