Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence said his technical staff shares his vision and insisted that he was happy with what everyone brought to the table.
The 42 year old Lawrence, who never worked as head coach before, appointed rookies Sol Campbell and Stern John as his assistants—both are top past players but have even less coaching experience than Lawrence—as well as W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, who initially wanted the top position himself.
However, the former 2006 World Cup hero said he only selected persons he was comfortable to work with and he is confident of the know-how of his technical staff.
John worked as assistant coach at Central FC for just over a year and the “Couva Sharks” won two Pro League titles and one Caribbean Cup trophy during that period. Lawrence suggested the former England Premier League striker, who is Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time leading scorer, can go on—with his help—to be a top coach.
“Stern has a lot to offer in terms of his experience [and] he is ambitious,” said Lawrence. “I think it is important that we start educating our own as well… I want to help Stern as well by educating him to become the best possible coach he can [be]…
“The players are going to benefit massively from somebody like Stern.”
The TTFA has not yet released John’s CV but he is believed to hold a UEFA C License.
Lawrence explained that his coaching philosophy is to work collectively rather than to ask assistants to focus on one aspect of the team’s play, even though he would use their specialist knowledge as well.
“My coaching [philosophy] is, on every particular session, every coach will have a role to play in that particular session,” he said, “Stern obviously is very experienced at putting the ball in the back of the net, so I think from that point of view, Stern will have a lot of influence when it comes to that area of the pitch.
“But in general, on a daily basis, the coaches will all take part in the session in whatever role I have for them on the day.”
Campbell, a former England football captain and legendary defender for Arsenal, does have his UEFA Pro License although he has not yet coached professionally. Lawrence said the former Premiership star has a good football brain and is an asset.
“Sol is a guy that I spent 18 months with doing my Pro License,” he said. “His knowledge of the game and the way he sees the game, it impressed me…
“His knowledge and his vision of the game is of a very high standard. And you cannot ignore what the guy has achieved in his playing career.”
Fevrier is one of the Pro League’s most successful coaches and a former National Senior Team head coach for Trinidad and Tobago. Ironically, while national coach, Fevrier identified John as a bad influence on his team and once said that his biggest regret was not dropping the poacher.
The Connection coach said he is not one to hold grudges, though, and the pair have since made their peace.
Lawrence said Fevrier’s knowledge of local players will be a tremendous help.
“Stuartie’s CV speaks for itself,” said Lawrence. “This is a guy who knows the local league inside out […] and what Stuartie would give to me is the information that I have been missing over the years that I have been in the UK.
“So in regards to the players, [he will tell me] who will be able to play in different positions. He will have a good good knowledge of this.”
Ma Pau Stars coach Ross Russell, a former Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper, played alongside Lawrence at Defence Force. And the new coach believes they can work together.
“Ross Russell is somebody I know very well,” said Lawrence. “The one thing everybody needs to understand, I picked people around me that I am comfortable to work with and have the same ambition—the same goals I want to achieve, they want to achieve these goals.
“We have had numerous conversations and I think he can help the goalkeepers to improve.”
South African fitness trainer Riedoh Berdien keeps his place after working with the Soca Warriors under Lawrence’s predecessor, Tom Saintfiet.
“I have done a lot of research on the people I have selected, Riedoh in particular,” said Lawrence, “and the impression from everyone who was involved with Riedoh in his time with Trinidad was very very positive…
“He is a very experienced guy. He knows his job. I think he will benefit Trinidad and Tobago from a physical point of view.”
Lawrence selected a 27-man team of local-based players today for his first training squad. The former Defence Force player, who has been a regular fixture at Pro League games over the past two weeks, spoke in glowing terms about the local competition.
“I was impressed with the Pro League from the fact that I am seeing teams trying to be brave and experiment,” he said. “I am seeing a tactical know-how from the coaches… It is fascinating to see the different systems being used, to see the way the coaches approach the game [and] the way the players apply themselves.
“I think it has been positive so far.”
The former Wigan Athletic and Everton FC assistant coach assured Trinidad and Tobago football fans that he is doing everything possible to ensure that the Warriors have every chance to succeed next month, as they try to resuscitate the team’s Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
“I am trying to ensure that I prepare the team as best as possible,” said Lawrence. “And as I said before, as difficult as it might be, it is not impossible. So we are going to prepare as best as we can to make sure that—come March the 24th—we can go out and try and deliver what we would like to have, which is a successful result.”