September 25, 2013
ON THE SHORT LIST
Riley ready to state his case on why he should be England women's national coach on Oct. 4
By Michael Lewis
|Paul Riley: "I look forward to coaching on the international stage. I think it would be a great step forward at this point."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Late last month Paul Riley went back home to England for some pleasure -- to watch his beloved Liverpool team play Notts County to a 2-2 draw in the English Premier League.
When he returns to his native land next week, it will be for strictly business -- to state his case on why he should be the coach of the England women's National Team.
Riley, who said he is on the short list for the job, will have an interview with England F.A. director of football Trevor Brooking and his search committee at Wembley Stadium on Friday, Oct. 4.
"I've coached for a long time, with a lot of experience, at a lot of different levels, a lot of different type of personalties," Riley said in an interview on Tuesday night. "I look forward to coaching on the international stage. I think it would be a great step forward at this point."
Riley certainly has the credentials as a replacement for Hope Powell, who was dismissed as national coach recently.
The Long Island resident was a finalist for the U.S. women's job last year, but former Australian international coach Tom Sermanni was named coach. Riley guided the Philadelphia Independence into two Women's Professional Soccer championship games, earning coach of the year honors.
Riley also feels he brings something unique to the table. He is an Englishman who has learned about and coach the women's game in a country that has been a hotbed for the sport in the past three decades.
"There are a lot of international candidates," he said. "I think they want to go international, which would be great. I think I have been an English guy who has been working in the states for 30 years. Probably the best women's soccer in the world is in the U.S. That fact ... will probably help me.
"I think that I'm English, too, is nice. It's always nice to go within your own country and find a coach. Having been in the states, it's probably a good time. I've probably seen all of the top players here, coached a lot of the top players here."
He added that England has "got a great promise, the program. It's got a lot of very, very good players. Maybe just a fresh approach would really help. I'm excited to to be considered at least. It's an honor to be considered. Hopefully, this time a little more lucky than the last time."
"It's a big job," Riley later said. "It's one of the biggest jobs that you can get with Germany, Sweden, France, obviously the U.S. job, probably the pinnacle of it. I don't think you could get the U.S. job without having experience internationally. That's what Tommy had with Australia. that's what [John] Herdman had with New Zealand, getting the Canadian job. I think if you want a big job in the world you've got to have international experience."
Riley's accomplishments as a player and coach could fill the internet.
As a player, he was an All-American at Adelphi University, was one of the leading amateur and semi-pro players in the area and captained the Long Island Rough Riders to the 1995 U.S. Interregional Soccer League title and played in the old A-League for the Albany Capitals.
As a coach, he guided the Rough Riders to the 2002 U.S. Pro League crown, coached some 50 youth teams to Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association State Cups, mostly with the Albertson Fury, and directed the Long Island Fury to the Women's Premier Soccer League title in 2006 and 2009.
That's his short list of accomplishments, which obviously got him on the England short list.
Beyond his credentials, Riley has a platform. If chosen as England coach he said that he has some plans to bring English women's soccer up a level or two to compete with the world's best. He wants to expand the player pool and to see players get more time training with their club team and national side as well.
Riley said he has noticed women's club football has taken a much more serious interest in the game. Manchester City, for example, is going fulltime next year, he said.
"I think the National Team players need that," he said. "They need the full time exposure to good training. You can't train Tuesday and Thursday and be a top international. You certainly can't train Tuesday and Thursday and expect to beat the U.S., France, Sweden, Germany, Japan. they're the countries you won't be able to beat. So I think the goal of the next coach of England would be to try to close that gap a little bit, give the players more fulltime training, more camps and more opportunities."
He also wanted to enlarge the player pool so more players could train at a high level during national team training camps.
"I think it's important for the squad expands," he said, noting that former U.S. national coach. Pia Sundhage "kept a pretty tight squad. Tommy's expanded it since he;s come in. I think the next England (coach) will probably have to do the same. Look under every rock and behind every tree and see what they can find, watch every game in the league and work with the coaches in the league t really find the best players, whatever age they might be; whether it's 17-years-old or whether it's 33-years-old."
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann expanded the U.S. men's pool, which gave him more players who come perform with the national team. On Sept. 10, the Americans qualified for their seven consecutive World Cup.
"He expanded the pool and had great success obviously because of it," Riley said. "I would give more players more depth, more players training at the top level, more players involved in the program. I think when you're involved in one of those programs, you want to train at the highest level. You want to take care of yourself to the fullest extent and you want to be a professional if you can, no matter what you do. I think that will help improve the players. I think there are limited opportunities for the 18 or 20 players who are there week after week and game after game. There's not much interest for the rest of them. With the new league, I think there's a lot of interest and there's a lot of good, young players coming up. Hopefully, everyone will be given the opportunity to try and make the team."
England is in UEFA Group 6 along with Montenegro, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales and Belarus. The seven group winners will qualify for Canada 2015. The four best second-place sides would qualify for a special home-an-away playoffs in which two would move onto to the Women's World Cup.
"It's a pretty good qualifying group England's got," Riley said. "I think they've got a pretty good shot of getting out of the group, which means the next coach has got basically a year and a half to prepare the team for Canada. It's probably enough time to bring some new players in, find some good players and good for there."
England soccer officials said that Riley could do the interview via computer, but he decided to talk to Brooking and the committee in person.
"I think it's important to get in front of people and get to know to me," he said. "It's probably easier than by computer. It's not as easy for them to understand what you love about the sport and what you can give to the team and what you can bring to the program. This will give me an opportunity to get in front of them and state the case for the job."
Riley has only been to the old Wembley as a Liverpool fan. He never played there, but on Oct. 4, he will have one of his most important interviews in the offices of what is known as "The Cathedral" of international soccer.
"Trevor Brooking will be doing the interview. He was a guy, of course, I used to watch as a kid," Riley said. "I had Mia Hamm when I did the U.S. [interview]. Now Trevor. That's two unbelievably good players, which is great. He seems to be really into the women's program. He goes to all of the games and a lot of league games, too, in the new league. He seems to be really promoting women's soccer. Hopefully this is the crossroads for the English team an they can push on and have a little bit more success."
Riley hoped that he will be at the helm after he states his case at Wembley.
"It's a lot easier going with the Reds and walk down Wembley Way," he said of being a Liverpool fan. "I saw them many times at the old Wembley, not the new Wembley unfortunately."
He then laughed.
"They [Liverpool] haven't been too successful, the new Wembley. It's an unbelievable stadium. It's once of those places, any player in the world, what the one stadium you want to play in the world and everybody would say Wembley Stadium. I won't be playing in there, but it's a great place to have an interview. It will be memorable, hopefully it will be memorable for the right reasons, at the end of it. Just to get to this part and to this stage to have an opportunity in front of Trevor an everybody else to state your case for the job. If don't get to that part, you don't get a chance to say what you really want, what you think you can do, what you think you're capable of."
And that would be coaching England's women's national team.