Mike Bacon: Why Kieron Dyer has all the credentials to be manager of Ipswich Town one day
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Kieron Dyer begins another step in his coaching career today - as manager of Town’s U-23s. He’s already managed the U18s and the next stop, should he ever be given the opportunity at Portman Road, is the big one - the first team. MIKE BACON says one day he might just get it.
Okay, so let’s make no bones about it. Kieron Dyer has had, let’s say, a ‘chequered’ footballing career.
Enormous talent on the pitch, even bigger headlines off it. An Ipswich Town youth star who joined Newcastle for £6m as a 20-year-old and one of a supposed ‘Golden Generation’ of English footballers from the early 2000s who were going to lead England to all sorts of World and European Cup glory - but never did.
Part of the Baby Bentley brigade, fast cars, flash jewellery, Dyer wasn’t alone spending as much time on the front pages as on the back.
Not the greatest of set of headlines to become a respected football manager going forward you would suggest.... But times change, people change.
Fast forward 15 years or so and I think Dyer now possess the credentials to one day become Ipswich Town’s first-team manager. And before I go any further, I don’t mean next week, next month or even next year.
I’m talking the future – three years, four years, who knows?
But I think his time will come and when it does, I think he will be ready.
It’s taken Dyer a little while to find himself after his injury-plagued career ended in 2013. Two broken legs, a succession of hamstring problems. Fans joking about him spending more time on the treatment table than on the pitch. It was all a bit messy at times... However, as I said, times change.
Now 41-years-old, he already has his UEFA A and B coaching badges, he’s starting his pro license soon. He loves coaching and managing.
As someone who followed him through his playing days and spoke to him regularly writing columns and stories, I must admit if you had told me he would knuckle down and study for what are pretty intensive coaching courses, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Today, Dyer is at last coming out of a shell he has been at times cocooned in for decades.
His explosive autobiography ‘Old Too Soon, Smart Too Late’, says it all, and was a chance for him to release the demons. A chance for him to explain much about his childhood and his growing up in a tough professional football environment. A chance to apologise for his behaviour, a chance to look back at a time when even he describes himself as ‘an idiot’.
I believe that book has been a huge release of the past and one that is allowing the Kieron Dyer of today to be a potentially exciting coach and manager of the future. And given a chance to manage anyone, it would be his home-town club.
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Away from family, when it comes to what Dyer treasures and loves most, Ipswich Town is front and centre - along with boxing! But that’s another story.
Dyer has always bled blue.
Born just a stone’s throw away from Portman Road, even though he spent most of his career in the Premier League with Newcastle, Ipswich has always been home.
Not that those reasons alone should put him in the frame for the job in the years ahead. But he’s maturing at a rate of knots, and just think of some of the coaches he has worked with as a player - Robson, Guillt, Keegan, Hoddle, Goran-Eriksson, Burley - while on his own doorstep Bryan Klug has always been the coach he has admired the most.
He’s played football on the highest of stages - in a World Cup Finals and - while you may think he wasn’t listening all those years ago to all the advice, don’t be fooled.
Dyer’s punditry on Sky and Five-Live, is invariably well thought out and interesting. He’s not afraid to say it as it is.
He has a solid understanding of how players of all ages tick, having endured a career of absolute highs and despairing lows from teen to early 30s.
You can talk to him about tactics, formations, European football, the Premier League, he has a sponge of a brain. He soaks it all up.
Ex-players managing their former clubs is as old as time eternal. From Lampard to Howe, Allardyce to Solskjær, Dalglish to Jewell, Kendall to Gerry Francis.... and never forget George Burley. If Dyer continues his managerial education at a steady pace, I’m sure the time will come.
He’s bright enough and would be respected enough among young players coming through (he has 33 England caps), to grab their attention. He’s learnt the hard way (after a run in with Sir Bobby over playing right mid!), that a lack of respect can be almost fatal.
But again, that’s all in the past.
Today, Kieron Dyer is a manager in the making. He will need to find someone to lean on, but when he does, he has a great chance.
It’s fantastic Ipswich Town - his club - are giving him the opportunity at U23 level to continue his managerial path.
And maybe, just maybe, one day Town’s faith in him will be truly repaid.
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