During his time as Crystal Palace first-team coach, Steven Reid, told FA education content editor, Peter Glynn, about the pressures of coaching on matchday.

In the moments just ahead of kick-off, Steven Reid preferred to be left alone.
The former Republic of Ireland midfielder, who represented Millwall, Blackburn, West Brom and Burnley during a 17 year-long playing career, was confident in his preparation and wanted to focus on the task ahead.

“As a player on matchday I just wanted to be left alone – I felt like I knew my job from the work we’d done earlier in the week.

“In the build-up I was just in the zone and wanted to get out there. I didn’t really need a lot of conversation or much information on the opposition,” explained Reid.

Since retiring as a player three years ago, the 36-year-old has swapped the pressure of playing for the demands of coaching.

After two years on the coaching staff at Reading – gaining experience of working with three different managers – Reid joined Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace as first-team coach last month.

Understanding the pressures of what Premier League players go through in the run up to a game is an aspect of the matchday experience Reid feels he can empathise with and support in his new role.

Steven Reid sidelines
Reid worked as Crystal Palace’s assistant coach during the 2017/18 season.

The man-management side of things is crucial in terms of choosing what to say to which players if they need it


“It’s fortunate for me that I’m only recently retired as a player. I played at Premier League level for thirteen years so I know exactly the pressures that they’re feeling. I feel I’ve almost got a gut instinct to see which players need what.

“The man-management side of things is crucial in terms of choosing what to say to which players if they need it. I’ve been in that situation where I know exactly how they are feeling on a matchday.”

Reid is currently studying for his UEFA Pro Licence with the Football Association and is clear that one day he wants to become a manager in his own right.

For now, however, he is engrossed in being part of a coaching team working with knowledgeable mentors.

As well as helping players deal with their pre-match preparation, Reid’s matchday role involves regular contact with the team analyst watching from the gantry.

“During the game I’ve got the earpiece in which is linked to the analyst who watches from the stand. He gets a better view of the game and can feed information back down to the bench. The coaching staff will ask for feedback and any different pictures that he can see.

“There’s obviously a lot going on so I’ll choose what information gets communicated back to the staff – it might be having a word with the goalkeeper coach about something we’ve noticed on set-plays.

“Mainly the information goes to the assistant manager and then it’s his decision about what goes on to the manager. If it’s vital information I might give that information straight to the manager as well,” he explains.

In that first five or ten minutes it’s very much about getting your ‘eye in’; it’s about getting an idea of the opposition’s shape both in and out of possession

Steven Reid Coaching
Steven Reid made over 340 league appearances in a 17-year-long career. Image: Marc Atkins/REX/Shutterstock

Although Reid says the whole game is a process of identifying problems and finding solutions the opening period of any contest is crucial.

“In that first five or ten minutes it’s very much about getting your ‘eye in’; it’s about getting an idea of the opposition’s shape both in and out of possession, their pressing positions and where we might find a bit of space.

“Also, it’s important to see how we’re shaped up and if we’re doing the things that we’ve been working on all week. It might mean a tweak to the system or a substitution despite how early it is in the game,” explains Reid.

Crystal Palace’s first-team coach recalls his time at Ewood Park where Sam Allardyce would start the game in the stand before coming down to the touchline for the second period. Could watching from a higher vantage point help coaches improve their observation?

“I don’t think it would be for me, to be honest. I always feel like I want to be ‘in it’ and be pitch-side and part of the atmosphere. I also think it’s important to be close to the players – which is something I liked as a player. From a player’s point of view I liked to see the manager there on the touchline.”

Few understand the pressures elite managers and coaches face on game day and Reid says it can be a demanding experience.

“As a coach, I feel more controlled than I did as a player. Having said that, during the game itself, I feel a lot more tense - especially if we’re holding on to a lead. Because you can’t actually take part in the game it seems to mentally drain you even more.

“There are different pressures as well. As a player you might have a three, four or five-year contract and it’s honoured - but your job on the coaching staff is a lot more precarious. Who knows how long you will get? So there’s added pressure that comes with that as well.”

Steven Reid left his role with Crystal Palace in September 2018.

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