Town’s Senior Professional Development Coach on his new role
Helping talented young footballers prepare for the rigours of First Team football has recently been a national debate after England’s World Cup display and at Huddersfield Town, Frankie Bunn is now the man charged with doing just that.
Frankie has moved up from the Professional Development Coach role into his new job as head of the Development Squad, where he will continue to work with many of the players who played in Town’s league-winning Under-18 side last season.
“I know a lot of the players and they know me, so they know what’s in store!” Frankie joked. “I’ve also worked in this role before at Manchester City, so I have experience of this age group and the requirements of it. You have to adjust depending on what age group you’re working with, but in any case no two players are the same – every player should be coached differently and with an individual emphasis.
“How to help players progress from youth levels into senior football has been debated for hours and hours over many years. We have to start introducing younger players into our leagues at the highest level; the international team is suffering because that isn’t happening enough at the moment.
“At Huddersfield Town, we believe in our philosophy of getting young players into our First Team. The players can see that pathway is possible here, which is the culture we want; they need to see that, if they work hard, there is light at the end of the tunnel. That’s the same for the coaches, with the likes of Steve Eyre and Dan Hughes given opportunities too.
“I think the Club has come on leaps and bounds over the last two years. It is now trying to develop further in all areas and get as many quality, home-grown players into the First Team as it can; ultimately they have to be good enough, though.
“We also have a Manager that believes in the system, as he showed last season by putting the likes of Duane Holmes, Tommy Smith and Philip Billing into the side. Because of that, it’s an exciting time here and we all feel a part of it.”
Frankie will tailor development programs specific to each member of the Development Squad and the areas they need to improve, but he also believes that development boils down to the commitment of each person.
“Every player is at a different stage of development and needs an individually tailored development plan to suit their needs. Some players may be ready to go out on loan and experience First Team football, but equally we have good coaches within the Club and we want out players to work with them.
“I believe the players have to take ownership and responsibility into their own development. You can’t have 19 or 21 year-olds making it into the First Team and thinking they’ve made it – the culture has to change and it will! These players might need to go out on loan or come back out and work in the afternoons and continue with their technical and tactical work; we will ensure that this happens.
“When they get into the first XI at the John Smith’s Stadium, they have to know what they’re doing in their specific role. That comes from one-on-one work, learning how to work in a unit and as part of a team on the training ground.”
With the Under-21 Professional Development League 2 fixtures due to be released imminently, Frankie also believes that forming a winning habit is an important part of a player’s development.
“Results-wise, we’ve had a good two years with the Under-21s and Under-18s since the Elite Player Performance Plan came in. Obviously results aren’t the be all and end all, but they are still important; these players are in a results-based business and this is the final step before the First Team. With a winning culture, the players will learn how to manage games.
“Through our results, Huddersfield Town’s Academy is making a name for itself and people are starting to look at how we do things. Combined with the PPG Canalside facility, it helps in terms of recruitment in a competitive football area – there’s no doubt about that.”