Progressive young coach Gary White narrowly missed out on the England under-21 job after gaining a wealth of experience with Shanghai Shenxin last year. Following his interview with Wild East Football last year, we catch up with the globetrotting Englishman following his appointment as national team manager of Taiwan.
We spoke at the end of 2016 after you’d turned around Shanghai Shenxin’s fortunes, but then left the club, can you tell us a bit about that?
I really look back at my time at Shenxin with very fond memories. My contract was due up at the end of 2016 so when they didn’t renew I was a bit surprised. But that’s football. During the season I achieved a 45% league win ratio. Bearing in mind the team I took over was in the relegation places, I hadn’t had a pre-season with the squad and I didn’t get the chance to bring in any external players, I’ve performed better than the guy who replaced me whom I’m told is on a 38% league win rate. The club made a decision, but I just thank them for giving me the chance to coach there; I loved every minute of it.
Congratulations on taking over the role of the Head Coaching job at Chinese Taipei, how did that come about?
Between leaving Shenxin and taking this job, I’ve really had a memorable eight months. Most importantly, I got to spend time with my son who recently turned two. I know this a about football, but I will be thankful for the rest of my days for this time with him.
Footballing wise, I’ve used this time to further my understanding of Chinese football. I advised Nike PRC, becoming their Director of Scouting. I have gone to see many matches, training sessions and spent time with many CSL and Chinese League One coaching teams this year. Spending time with the Chinese National Team was also a great experience for me to meet with China’s top players and support the National Team’s management and development plans.
The Chinese Taipei FA had known me for around 4-5 years when I was the Head Coach at Guam. They had spoken to me back then, but I wasn’t available. But when the interest came this time, via my agents, it made sense. Their vision is fantastic. They are undertaking a football revolution and I’m very motivated to help them fulfill their potential.
What do you think you can achieve with the Chinese Taipei team?
The immediate target is to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. I’m taking over with half of the qualification games already played and we’re in third spot, only the top 2 go through. The longer term goal is to take Chinese Taipei to their highest ever FIFA Ranking.
I want the players to fulfil their potential and part of that will be me helping Chinese Taipei develop their domestic game and give the players better opportunities at club level.
Six of the Chinese Taipei squad are playing in China so I’m already familiar with them, but there are untapped players out there with the right to play for the Chinese Taipei side. We will be looking far and wide to put together the best squad we can and give Chinese Taipei the foundation to develop into a better team.
This will be your fourth national team that you’ve managed, how does it compare to the club game?
At the club level you are working with your players and staff day-in-day-out so the influence you can have over their development and mentality is far greater. But my management style has always been to try to work with my players outside of the official time allocated for international duty.
At international level you can think of it as having a kind of continuous transfer window, so you have to watch a wider range of players who you are always looking at to see if they fit into your plans. At Club level you generally focus on your Club’s players and your upcoming opponents.
I’ve enjoyed coaching at both levels and take that experience into any job I do. I will keep both as options open for me in the future.
You’ve always said that your goal is to one day be the England national team head coach, don’t you need to get into UK football sooner rather than later if you’re going to achieve your goal?
When I’ve achieved my goals with the Chinese Taipei team, I will look to go back into the club game in one of the world’s top leagues. Ten years from now I want to be in the mix for the England job, that’s for sure.
Coaching at club level in the UK is a funny one. My agents First Pick always refer to it as being on the ‘conveyor belt’, but I was recently talking to a former top 10 Premier League striker who called it the ’roundabout’. The UK coaching scene repeats itself. If you’re not on the list, you don’t get a look in. It doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved, if the chairman doesn’t go for beers with you, then you can forget it.
How many of the Head Coaches in the UK have got my win percentage, almost 20 years of coaching experience…. remember I started as a Southampton player before moving around other English clubs so it’s not like I don’t know my own country’s football.
All I’m saying is that I love my country and its football culture, but clubs need to look outside of the usual domestic names who don’t have the experience from outside of the UK. When they do, I’ll be ready and waiting!
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