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Lost then found, honest Joe Edwards finds his true calling

New assistant manager opens up on his background and philosophy

Everton Training Session
Joe Edwards gets to work
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

I think you can almost take it for granted that any incoming coach, or player for that matter, would speak of their ambition, their desire to achieve success/ silverware with their new club. They’re the “right things to say”, they ingratiate themselves immediately with the fanbase and create an air of optimism. Although in the case of Everton’s new assistant manager the words came across as very genuine, for me, I’d fully expect him to say that.

Other things he said however made it sound altogether more personal and different from the responses you might expect. Lifting the lid on his career so far in his first interview on the Everton website, Joe Edwards, who recently joined as Frank Lampard’s assistant manager, came across very well indeed.

There are not many coaches that at the tender age (in coaching terms) of 35 can point to 16 years’ experience at a top flight club but that is the case for Edwards. He described honestly the difficult wrench to leave Chelsea where he was very much part of Thomas Tuchel’s staff and had been involved with them since the 1990s. The draw was very much to work alongside our new manager Frank Lampard once again.

Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, both now capped at full England international level, were part of Edward’s first under-8 group and they and other established internationals such as Mason Mount and Reece James were part of Edwards’ tenure as Chelsea Under 23 manager. James was glowing in his words on an Instagram story for our new Assistant Manager as he wished him luck in January.

“I wish you nothing but the best. You helped me in so many positive ways all the way through the academy into the first team. Forever thankful”

Chelsea Player of the Year Awards
Joe Edwards with Reece James after the youngster won Chelsea Academy Player of the Year in May 10, 2018
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Edwards’ life experience as a player perhaps goes some way to explain how he has developed as a coach and how he has a rapport with the players. Like so many others then (in 2002), Edwards was given the devastating news he would not be signed on scholarship terms with his boyhood club. He drifted into non-League football but found the experience unsatisfying, in his words he felt “lost”. A lot of players in that similar position make non-League football a sideline to another profession but not Joe Edwards. In his own honest words to “earn a bit of pocket money” he agreed without hesitation to try coaching. Smart decision Joe!

He speaks passionately about the dawning moment he discovered that he got huge enjoyment as a 19 year old from coaching and helping others achieve the heights he sadly could not as a player. The household name players mentioned earlier are evidence of the impact he has made in one shade of blue in the Premiership.

Having seen the Everton bench in action, even in defeat on Saturday at Southampton, you can see the entire backroom staff working as a team. It’s quite clearly not just a Frank Lampard show, the vastly experienced first team coach Paul Clement was seen delivering instruction to players and Edwards is also a key and trusted lieutenant. He refers to the “intensity” of his training sessions and how they first impressed Lampard and how that is happening now in the sessions he is running for Everton. If you compare the latest training video footage to come out of Finch Farm to those earlier in the season you could be forgiven for thinking they are at different playback speeds!

He speaks also of “enjoyment” while testing his players at the same time. Although this was said in the context of Chelsea’s junior teams you can see he relates very much to the players. He himself refers to being of an age close enough to the players to help him do that. As well as the new intensity, if you cast your mind back to the recent darker times of the Benitez “teacher” era with alleged micromanagement and the negative connotations which go with that, then this scene seems miles removed.

Everton Training Session Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

In the short term however, as he says, it’s important right now to get points on the board, the longer term goals can wait a little. There’s a simplicity to the approach, not forcing a philosophy or formation on a group of players straight away, instead improve players individually and use the disparate strengths of the coaching team to benefit the group as a whole and progress thereafter.

The entire interview showed we have an assistant manager armed with bucket loads of common sense and we hope that the once “lost” Joe Edwards has a found a new home he can be proud of!