62 episodes

Welcome to the Training Ground Guru podcast, in association with Hudl. Each month we’ll be taking you behind the scenes in professional football, with unique insights from leading experts. Thanks for listening.

Training Ground Guru Podcast Training Ground Guru

    • Sport
    • 4.8 • 48 Ratings

Welcome to the Training Ground Guru podcast, in association with Hudl. Each month we’ll be taking you behind the scenes in professional football, with unique insights from leading experts. Thanks for listening.

    #61: Radhi Jaidi: Breaking barriers as a player and coach

    #61: Radhi Jaidi: Breaking barriers as a player and coach

    Our guest on Episode #61 of the TGG Podcast, in association with Hudl, is Radhi Jaidi.
    Radhi is a true legend of Tunisian football, having played 105 times for his country and won every trophy there was to win at club level there.
    Fans in England will know him best from his time at Bolton Wanderers, where he played under Sam Allardyce and helped them qualify for Europe. 
    Since 2018 he's been a coach, working with Southampton U23s, Hartford Athletic in the USL, Esperance in Tunisia and now Cercle Brugge in Belgium, where he's assistant.
    Radhi told me about his tough upbringing, his best memories from Bolton and his experiences and ambitions as a coach. 
    02:05: Working as assistant at Cercle Brugge since 2023. Second spell at the club.
    04:30: Same ownership as Monaco. How this impacts what happens at Cercle. Recently had a training camp in Monaco.
    07:48: Why he chose Cercle. Background in youth development. Balance between development and results.
    13:17: Importance of relationship building.
    15:26: Duties as assistant manager. Main duties are as defensive coach, especially with the centre-backs.
    16:45: Growing up in Tunisia. 
    21:26: Rare in having gone direct from Africa to the Premier League.
    34:09: 15 different nationalities at one stage but gelled together. Importance of Tuesday team meal and being fined for missing his first one!
    43:00: Childhood. Father died when Radhi was 11 and he had to grow up fast. 
    44:43: Are young players too pampered today?
    50:30: Differences between the generations. Generation of young players have a big problem with distraction. Malcolm Frame, psychologist at Southampton, had a good mnemonic, the 4 As: Accept, Assess, Adapt, Apply. Generations and environment might change, but core values shouldn't.
    55:31: Ambitions for the future - "the ultimate is to succeed with a European team as a Head Coach. I still have the ambition, the desire, the energy, the obsession to make it." Unconscious bias. "The day I get the opportunity I am going to explode."
    57:53: Importance of his Muslim faith. 

    • 1 hr
    #60: Ruben Selles: In the eye of the storm at Reading

    #60: Ruben Selles: In the eye of the storm at Reading

    Our guest on Episode #60 of the TGG Podcast, in association with Hudl, is Reading manager Ruben Selles.
    The highly-rated coach gained plaudits for the way he managed Southampton for the second half of last season and there were high hopes when he took over at Reading in the summer.
    However, an ongoing financial crisis has plunged the very future of the club into doubt.
    In this episode the Spaniard gives us insights into the challenges he and his players have faced, while also looking back on his career to date and ahead to the future. 
    02:07: Challenges as Reading manager. Pre-season with nine pro players.
    06:48: Transfer embargo in January window. Will fight to hold onto players.
    09:13: Foregoing wages in November along with Director of Football Mark Bowen. "As Simon Sinek says, leaders eat last."
    10:41: Having impressive infrastructure at the club, in terms of Academy and new training ground. "Yes, but you can have an amazing house and very cheap furniture. The real thing is to build a culture inside the club and make people feel safe."
    12:05: What is situation regarding ownership and potential sale?
    12:58: Has the project been what was promised to you?
    13:30: Started coaching at 16 and gained Pro Licence at 25. Was it an advantage starting so young? 
    20:37: Travelled around the world as a young Spanish coach: to Greece, Russia, Azerbaijan, Denmark and England. 
    25:09: Move to Southampton. Had been tracked by Rasmus Ankersen. Mentored by Matt Crocker. Difficult being parachuted in as an assistant rather than the Head Coach choosing you himself?
    30:02: Innovative club: individual coaching/ specialist coaches/ Playbook etc. How did it work?
    32:44: Taking over as Southampton Head Coach when Ralph Hassenhuttl and then Nathan Jones were sacked. 
    37:48: Management is all-consuming. Impact on family. Using psychologist support for both himself and his family. "The kids were suffering."
    45:53: Could you have stayed at Southampton after Russell Martin came in as manager?
    48:59: Did you get offers from other clubs after leaving Southampton? And why did Reading appeal to you?
    50:25: What is your playing philosophy? 
    54:47: Proving he is a development manager. 
    56:08: Working with young talented players. Example of Rasmus Hojlund, now Manchester United, at Copenhagen. Convinced he will become world-class. A "mentality monster."
    1:00:25: Ambitions: for the rest of the season and remainder of career. 

    • 1 hr 1 min
    #59: Chris O’Loughlin: Upsetting the odds with Union Saint-Gilloise

    #59: Chris O’Loughlin: Upsetting the odds with Union Saint-Gilloise

    Our guest on Episode #59 of the TGG Podcast, in association with Hudl, is Chris O'Loughlin.
    Chris is the Sporting Director of Union Saint Gilloise, one of the most innovative and interesting clubs in the whole of Europe.
    Despite having a stadium with a capacity of just 9,400, and a budget that’s dwarfed by the biggest clubs, they are top of the table in Belgium.     
    Chris told us how the club scout for character and how they use data to punch way above their weight. 
    02:13: Background. Born in Limerick, move to Cape Town at a young age. B Licence at Larne in Northern Ireland. Break with Bibey Mutombo at Orlando Pirates.
    09:25: Move to Belgium with Yannick Ferrera at Sint-Truiden.
    12:09: Becoming a Sporting Director with Union Saint-Gilloise. Strong believer in culture. In his experience, clubs hadn't included considerations about culture in their decision-making, especially in terms of squad building.
    14:48: History of USG. Potential in Brussels. Stadium is romantic/ 104 years old. Budget is low and has been growing step by step. About building a foundation and strategy.
    17:07: Never met or had a conversation with Tony Bloom. Alex Muzio is the day to day President and now majority shareholder. Reasons why the duo chose to buy the club.
    21:48: First role was to create a behavioural culture and performance culture for the club. Establishing five key values for the club. Recruiting to those values. Human being qualities they look for. People can get confused about what humility actually means. 
    30:40: Example of Victor Boniface. Went deep into his social media and found how he had helped a mother in Nigeria. 'We don’t need an angel, we just need a person with a good soul.'
    32:33: Creating a 'common denominator' among the players/ having something common in their spirit and soul, which creates cohesion and togetherness. Richie Barker at Charlton told him about creating a common goal. Looking for hungry, humble players.
    35:47: Analytics used as a filtering system. Look for undervalued, underrated players. Don't recruit for a specific style of play.
    43:54: Ambitions for the club - new stadium, focus on Academy, challenging for trophies in Belgium and qualifying for Europe regularly. 

    • 49 min
    #58: Kevin Thelwell: Building something to believe in at Everton

    #58: Kevin Thelwell: Building something to believe in at Everton

    Our guest on Episode #58 of the TGG Podcast, in association with Hudl, is Everton Director of Football Kevin Thelwell.
    Kevin tells Simon Austin about his role at the club, their four strategic pillars, his relationship with manager Sean Dyche and much more. 
    01:50: Team going in the right direction.
    02:44: Sporting Director role explained.
    03:30: Why did Everton choose you?
    04:20: Are your KPIs different to those of Marcel Brands? Huge spending to balancing the books.
    07:37: Ambitions now. "Everyone wants to get Everton back to where we believe it belongs". Previously an inverse relationship between spending and improving team performance.
    10:00: How did you put together the strategy? Staff working groups.
    12:09: Four strategic pillars: who we are; how we play; how we support; staff development.
    13:34: Learnings from previous role as Head of Sport at New York Red Bulls. "The clearer you are, the better you are and the easier it is."
    14:27: Style of play. "They want to see this dogs of war piece but they also want to see this school of science bit they had in the 60s and 70s."
    21:30: Is Sean Dyche the right person to develop this style? "If you look at Sean at Burnley, Sean at Everton, he has already evolved. The data tells us that, the naked eye tells us that." xG difference as the most important metric in identifying longer-term form of the team.
    25:48: Style of play running through the teams, from seniors to Academy.
    27:06: Was balance right between winning trophies at Academy level and developing players? Importance of loans. Example of Jarrad Branthwaite.
    34:49: Recruitment - collaboration between Director of Football and manager.
    38:25: Influence of the Data Insights department. Charlie Reeves. Dyche engaged. Review of team's progress using data every six to eight weeks.
    42:38: Wider club challenges. Potential of 12-point deduction/ uncertainty over ownership.

    • 46 min
    #57: Jes Buster Madsen: Neuroscience and developing decision making

    #57: Jes Buster Madsen: Neuroscience and developing decision making

    Our guest on Episode #57 of the TGG Podcast, in association with Hudl, is Jes Buster Madsen.
    Jes is Head of Research and Development for FC Copenhagen in Denmark and is leading the way in the application of cognitive neuroscience in football. 
    01:31: What role of Head of Research & Development involves. How he got the role. 
    09:10: How he persuaded Academy Director Sune Smith-Nielsen to give him the job at FC Copenhagen.
    12:37: Importance of application of ecological psychology in football. 
    15:50: What does perception actually mean and what does it involve?
    21:12: Importance of visual cues. "The biggest sensory system in the brain - and the one that takes up the most space by far - is the visual system."
    23:27: Working memory: the ability to remember information temporarily. Pattern recognition. Implications in scanning.
    26:32: Has your work impacted/ changed coaching practice at FC Copenhagen? Has it influenced and improved the players?
    29:02: What is 'game intelligence'?
    34:06: How you can tell a player's position from their brain scan. Importance of simplicity: "Neuroscience is complex and when something is complex, people try to find the most complex solution. I think the other way round - when something is complex, we should find the most simple solution and work from there."
    37:07: Everything in the brain can be trained. The brain is neuroplastic and can change.
    38:28: Future of neuroscience in football.

    • 46 min
    #56: Mark Leyland: Evolving the role of the analyst

    #56: Mark Leyland: Evolving the role of the analyst

    Our guest on Episode #56 of the TGG Podcast, in association with Hudl, is Mark Leyland. 
    Mark is one of the foremost analysts in this country and has become much more than that. He started his career in the Academy at Everton and went on to work for Burnley, Liverpool and Newcastle.
    Mark is one of the few backroom staff to be name-checked by managers. Eddie Howe described him as 'integral' and said 'we love him to bits,' while Jurgen Klopp said he had played 'a big part' in Liverpool's success.
    Mark was a Post-Match Analyst for Liverpool, evolved into a Coach-Analyst at Newcastle and is now Head of Coaching Methodology for City Football Group. 
    Simon Austin spoke to Mark in front of a live audience at Hudl's UK Football Conference at Loughborough University.
    02:14: Starting to work in football. Analysing games on VHS with Dave Raven. Intern with Everton. Early lessons.
    09:45: Delivering feedback in a constructive way. Importance of relationships. Working with young players.
    11:53: Elite players employing their own analysts. 
    13:17: First team football with Burnley. Working with Eddie Howe and then Sean Dyche. Help of Harrison Kingston.
    18:08: Working at Liverpool. Evolution of the analyst role. Elite development group and focus on individual development.
    20:46: Divock Origi embracing analysis. Has his own analyst and Wyscout account.
    22:05: Working in tandem with the data science department at Liverpool. Players more used to working with data now.
    25:41: Working closely with the coaches at Liverpool/ spending more time on the training pitch.
    28:54: Even including the ball boys in analysis at Liverpool, leading to famous winner against Barcelona in the Champions League semis.
    30:31: Joining Newcastle/ how the Coach-Analyst title came about. Will it become more prevalent in future?
    37:16: Switch to City Football Group/ how it came about/ pressures of being in a first-team environment and difficulty of getting a work-life balance in football.
    42:09: What does Head of Coaching Methodology involve?
    44:38: Personal ambitions for the future?

    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
48 Ratings

48 Ratings

cscadden ,


Excellent for anyone wanting an insight or to find out about the names behind the scenes of all things Football.

Ssa777 ,

A must listen to

Excellent podcast for sports fans, highly recommend

Ozzer gg ,

Great insights

Great way to find out what goes on behind the scenes in pro football

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