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Dennis Lawrence: Why I selected Sol, Stuart and Stern as my T&T football assistants

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.

Photo: W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (second from right) and assistant coach Earl Jean (far right) speak to their players during a break between the action against Atlantico FC in 2016 Caribbean Club Championship action. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (second from right) and assistant coach Earl Jean (far right) speak to their players during a break between the action against Atlantico FC in 2016 Caribbean Club Championship action.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

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.

Photo: Central FC head coach Dale Saunders (right) gives instructions to substitute Sean De Silva (centre) while assistant coach Stern John gestures during Pro League action against San Juan Jabloteh at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 5 February 2017. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC head coach Dale Saunders (right) gives instructions to substitute Sean De Silva (centre) while assistant coach Stern John gestures during Pro League action against San Juan Jabloteh at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 5 February 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“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.”

Photo: Former Tottenham, Arsenal and England defender Sulzeer “Sol” Campbell (centre) mentors young enthusiasts at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi on 28 May 2016. (Copyright AFP 2017/Tony Karumba)
Photo: Former Tottenham, Arsenal and England defender Sulzeer “Sol” Campbell (centre) mentors young enthusiasts at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi on 28 May 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Tony Karumba)

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.

Photo: North East Stars coach Ross Russell (left) and Club Sando coach Anthony Street follow the action from the sidelines during 2015/16 Pro League action in Couva. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars coach Ross Russell (left) and Club Sando coach Anthony Street follow the action from the sidelines during 2015/16 Pro League action in Couva.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“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.

Photo: Club Sando forward Akeem Roach (right) is watched closely by W Connection defender Jelani Peters during Pro League action on 10 January 2017 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Club Sando forward Akeem Roach (right) is watched closely by W Connection defender Jelani Peters during Pro League action on 10 January 2017 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“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.”

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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28 comments

  1. I’m gonna say it but very poor rationale is best we gave Russel Latapy..Dwight Yorke and Jamal Shabbaz the job because combined they have more experience and qualifications than this staff combined.. I’d even throw Evan Pellarud in as he’s one very intense coach who was technical advisor for women’s football and I feel he would have better served the male team..

  2. Dennis can choose who he wants as long as we get results….

  3. Interesting choices my brother has been raving about Boatswain and having a Stern John to learn from can only develop the strikers and we need to regain our scoring touch… I look forward to seeing the two warm up matches to get a sense of what style D L’s team will play….And Lasana next briefing pls ask the Coach if we can expect any NEW foreign-based players to be in his squad SPECIFICALLY Ranjitsingh & Bostock

  4. So Fevrier select the local squad lol because Tallest is relying on him to tell him who’s the best and where they play their best

  5. Not sure what about that selection sounds like a fete match team Kirwin. Dennis has been a part of Roberto Martinez’s set-up for the better part of 6 years. Sol Campbell is one of the best defenders that England has ever produced and also trained/learnt from one of the better managers the game has seen over the past two decades. Stuart is a good coach, with a wealth of knowledge on local players. Stern is the least experienced of the group, but who knows what he can bring to the table. I think we need to give Tallest some time to prove himself and if the players buy into him as a coach, who knows what will happen?

    • 100% agree on giving time. I just don’t like the selections and rationale…Stern has scored a lot of goals so he could help in that area ? Sol’s experience ? I’d rather not bite at this cherry pal. Being assistant for Zidane or Pep as compared to being HC for a U-14 team is totally different

    • Never said Sol’s experience as a coach, but his experience in a proper coaching set-up. Same with Dennis. Like you I am skeptical, but in this instance choosing to adopt a more positive outlook … unlike the situation with Saintfiet who was not even fit to coach my fete match team

    • He’s relying on Sol’s experience and knowledge as a player.
      I don’t think he’ll be anywhere close to horrible, just the selection and rationale for staff selection is what I find baffling(a bit)…

  6. Lol nuff men disagreed with me when I said sol and stern seemed a competent selection. Tallest selected a group he feels can help him achieve what he wants. If he feels that way that’s good enough for me. We have high expectations but he is who we have and if he does succeed nobody gonna complain about it. When Beenhakker did it they call him ah boss had he not done it they would have called him shite.

    • Who did Beenhakker choose Gozzi? You going to compare his staff to this one? You not serious?

    • My point was had he failed he’d have been chastised whether his crew was experienced or not. If Lawrence succeeds this will all be irrelevant …he’s entitled to choose a team he’s comfortable with to allow him to attempt to succeed….. sometimes with experience comes ego … too much ego can cause poor communication…..recipe for disaster. ….. saintfiet had alot of experience and bit too much ego lol

    • Saintfiet had experience of failure. Little else. That can’t be the bar for any real organisation.

  7. I think its a good team esp since we don’t have the experience of 2006 players. I like the idea of giving untested, but ambitious staff the chance. What I worry about is the funding to pay more staff, players and administrative requirements.

  8. Huh…sounding like a fete match team rather than a professional setup.

  9. Did not get to see the press conference but from what I read above, it seems like he has a clear rationale behind his coaching selection.

    I think that Sol Campbell will prove to be a great addition to the back room as well, and will ably support Dennis in bringing some much needed professionalism to our current set-up.

  10. John and Campbell obvious choices from Lawrence. As for SCF, that’s for DJW so he can eat his daily Ruby Tuesday’s in peace.

  11. Mango where come from ? Haven’t heard from you in a while. I thought lasana put you in a ban. Lol

  12. Yeah and even Marcano. Them really good yes

  13. I wish he’d select Darren Chucky Mitchell