COACH JOHNEEN BLACK
He is an 'A' European licensed coach, was the youngest ever manager of an Irish Premiership Club at 27 years old and the ONLY person to have been a 'PLAYER', 'FIRST TEAM COACH', 'MANAGER' and 'CHAIRMAN' of an Irish Premier League Club.
Johneen began his soccer career playing for leading Irish Premier Clubs: Glentoran F.C., Glenavon F.C. and Larne F.C., but because of serious knee problems at an early age, he moved on to coaching at 19 years of age. He served as head coach to one of the most successful Youth Systems in the United Kingdom. The structure proved capable of transferring 2 or 3 youth players to leading English Premier League, Scottish Premier League or Irish Premier League Clubs. He currently coaches an elite group of youth prospects in Ireland on behalf of CHELSEA F.C. as part of their academy program to ensure prospective pros from Ireland develop in parallel with their UK counterparts he developed the complete coaching program for players aged 6 to 16 years of age.
Under his and his trained team of coaches the program , over a 4 year period, acted like a conveyor belt to top clubs where players such as Jonny Steele (coaching him until he was 16 then sent him for his 1st pro contract at Wolverhampton Wanderers and is now currently playing for the Red Bulls), Jeff Hughes at Bristol Rovers, Jonathan Black at Tottenham Hotspur, Robby Weir at Sunderland, Paddy McLaughlin at Newcastle United, Adam McGurk at Aston Villa, Jamie McGovern at West Bromwich Albion, Aaron Black at Ayr United Scotland, Marc Smyth at Blackpool, along with many others, were scouted/recruited and offered professional contracts whilst under Johneen's tenure.Additionally, during that period, 11 of the players went on to represent Northern Ireland at U'15,U'16,U'17,U'18,U'21 and full International level. He presently coaches an elite group of youth prospects in Ireland on behalf of CHELSEA F.C. as part of their academy program to ensure prospective pros from Ireland develop in parallel with their UK counterparts.
COACHING PHILOSOPHY AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Johneen has spent many years coaching and training professional and semi-professional adult players. However, he really thrives on identifying the talent of and developing the skills of young players to see success at exceptional levels. His teams have achieved the Northern Ireland Championships as well as three All-Ireland finals. He has led teams to the Northern Ireland Schools Championships and has been a coach at the National and Regional levels in Ireland with countless championship wins at all levels.
Johneen's teams have always achieved highly using his unique coaching style. He developed his own, very unique, and undeniably successful, ideas on how to develop players. His goals were to instill the importance of continually developing one's individual technique and Johneen placed a strong emphasis on demonstration of the required techniques in the early years along with instilling an understanding of systems and as a footballing purist. His coaching centered on how the ball should move in a fluent system around the field of play and eventually build confidence in 'self' and 'team-mates' - encouraging playing with style, flair and passion- taking away the fear-factor.
Johneen 'broke the mold' by showing how, that even at the Youth level, players could be encouraged to go 'outside the norm' by learning to play 'in pockets' to impose a unique system of play. Players became aware that even when defending as a unit, there was a highly effective 'platform for attack' where each player held a critical individual role in all phases.
Johneen's coaching and practice sessions involved 'Trigger scenarios' where players would eventually recognize the developing scenario in the match situation and react accordingly. He focused on 'weight of pass','angles of runs' Awareness of others' movements and reaction to it was key. Through carefully chosen, specially designed coaching practices, players grew proficient with the required patterns enabling them to step up and take responsibility with a full awareness of the importance of their role in the system.
Johneen's system of tactics and strategy was so successful that coaches from other sports took notice. He played a critical role in coaching one of the top field hockey teams in Ireland to three All-Ireland finals as well as coaching the Ireland Under-18 International Hockey team. His coaching system successfully transferred to a sport where players had to be able to develop 4 to 5 phases of play and then 'channel' the opposition into preferred areas to prepare for fast break-outs on winning back the ball with multiple inter-change.
From Johneen's perspective, hockey and soccer complemented each other perfectly with the only difference being that the ball is on the ground 99% of the time in hockey which places additional demands for players to get out of trouble. Then, demonstrating his intuitive expertise as a natural coach, Johneen took from the game of Hockey and supplanted those strategic principles of hockey onto the soccer field. This strategic integration has created one of the most highly successful tactical approaches to the game of soccer in play today. He developed an array of 'get out' strategies to ensure maintenance of 'control and passing of the ball in the defensive third with players making angles, demanding the ball and being prepared to go as deep as they had to to get the ball around the back at lightening pace and then able to find the linking mid-fielders, recognizing their new role in the phases of attack.
Johneen is adamant that that every training session should challenge and should improve some aspect of a player's game. His personal attitude is that coaches should be judged on how much a player improves individually and how a team improves collectively. This success cannot be measured by the number of trophies that come home, but it has to be judged by the number of players that are able to transcend from the team to go to the higher level of play while seamlessly fitting into more sophisticated systems of play. It is judged by his player's abilities to cope with the higher tempo required from more advanced technical, tactical and decision-making experiences.
Johneen has built a vast portfolio of 'unique' training pitch routines. These patterns of play guarantee the transfer of training ground strategy into actual match situations. Players learn to instantly recognize the movement of strategy while reacting advantageously to the momentum of the game. Players become able to instinctively respond to their teammate's actions to understand their evolving role and scrutinize all of the possible options in each situation.
Johneen believes that any coaching session or practice must provide 'Added Value' for the player. Any training or course should be judged on whether or not the player has learned new ideas, developed better habits to become and to feel confidence as a better player. Johneen's experience and the outcome of his players has proven that he can meet all of those challenges regardless of the starting level of the players' ability. Having coached players who have gone on to play full-time pro football or soccer as it is known in USA, Johneen is not only aware of the required level of performance needed to succeed, but more importantly, he knows how to get there...and he has proven that he can coach a player to achieve those levels of success!