Management is a whole new ball game for Ipswich Town’s Alan Lee
- Credit: Archant
He’s won promotion with three different teams, saved Crystal Palace from relegation on the final day of the season and represented the Republic of Ireland on 10 occasions.
There is not much Alan Lee has not experienced during an 18-year playing career but get him talking about coaching and management and the veteran frontman insists he is relative novice.
Coaching and management could play a big part in his future – the Galway-born striker initially returned to Ipswich in the summer to acquire some experience working with the club’s youth team – but for now Lee is honest enough to admit that he has some way to go before making a successful transition.
Working for the likes of Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor as a player and, as a coach, alongside such people as Bryan Klug and Gerard Nash means Lee could not be getting a better grounding but the former Norwich loanee is not resting on his laurels.
“To be able to learn from someone like that (McCarthy) in training is brilliant,” said Lee, who is working towards attaining his FA coaching badges.
“Sometimes I have to remember to snap out of trying to work out why he is saying things (from a coaching point of view) and concentrate on the training session as a player.
“He has a fantastic team with great experience though and I am so grateful to learn from him and Terry (Connor).”
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As well as Town’s current managerial duo, Lee has also worked under the likes of Joe Royle, Stan Ternent, Dave Jones and Ronnie Moore and is full of admiration for the work managers and coaches do behind the scenes.
“I passed my first (coaching) assessment with flying colours and because I had not done a lot of coaching in the past, my examiner said I was a natural!” recalls Lee.
“I thought I had it cracked so I volunteered to do the next assessment on the course and by the time I was halfway through it, I could not remember my own name. There was so much to learn.
“The day you stop is when you go wrong.”
He added: “When you work with people like Terry (Connor) you realise how good they are.
“A player may get injured at the last minute so the training sessions would have to change.
“Then there is the extra hours of preparation and realising that lads chatting when you are talking IS really annoying.
“I want to be the best coach I can be before I think of anything else.”
Before he hangs up his boots though, Lee, 35, may yet have a few more goals left, especially if the work he has done with Connor rubs off.
“I can learn as a player and that’s down to Terry Connor,” said Lee.
“Tomorrow the training will start at 10am but the strikers will do an extra 30 or 40 minutes working on their finishing with Terry.
“At some clubs that would see the players kicking the ball into the back of the net whereas Terry sets up specific drills that are more realistic.
“I have not had that time spent with me or anyone care about me that much for a few years.
“I have been playing as a target man, so for someone to say we are going to improve your finishing and work at different things is fantastic.
“My finishing has got better and that’s down to Terry Connor.
“If he can teach an old donkey like me, then he’s not doing too bad!”