When it comes to coaching, learning from someone who has worked as assistant manager at Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain isn't bad going.
When Tom Shaw takes up his new role as player-assistant manager at Chester FC when the Blues return to pre-season training on Monday he does so with experience in coaching that belies his 30 years.
Midfielder Shaw will take a back seat at Chester next season, continuing to keep himself fit and ready if called upon but with a renewed focus on the other side of the game; the preparation before the execution on a Saturday.
Boasting a Uefa A Licence and having worked with the academy at Derby County, Shaw is now looking to apply what he has learned to a senior setting and aid Blues manager Jon McCarthy in his bid to banish the memory of last season in the National League and get Chester moving forward to a brighter future. It is a task he is approaching with some relish.
“Being brutally honest, I think I’m a better coach than I am a player,” said Shaw, who picked up the Football Writers’ Player of the Season Award at the end of season bash last month.
“This has probably come earlier than I expected but I am going to give it everything. I love playing for this club but I think I’m going to love being a part of the backroom team.
“Signing lads like Paul Turnbull and Kingsley James, I don’t think I’d get in the team now! We have kept some good midfielders and signed two very accomplished National League midfielders which means I can get my teeth into the coaching side of things. I’ve kept myself fit and will be training when possible and I’ll always be ready but the manager and myself, we really want to hit the ground running with the coaching side. It is a challenge I’m looking forward to.
“I’ve been coaching at a good level at a top academy and gained a lot of experience there already. I don’t think I’ll be doing too much different from what I do with the young ones as all footballers are big kids anyway. I’ll be trying to tap into the mental side as well as the playing side. I will have to learn on the job a little bit but I think I have quite a bit to offer.”
Shaw, who joined the Blues in 2015 from Alfreton Town and has made over 90 appearances for the Blues, knows that making the switch from player to coach and swapping academy youngsters for senior professionals will be a big change.
But, able to draw upon experience he has already acquired on the training ground, monitoring now Swansea City boss Paul Clement, who was then boss at Derby and had followed Carlo Ancelotti at various European giants, Shaw is confident he has the tools to make a success of his new role.”
“It’s going to be different and there is going to be three points riding on it every week and there will be a bit of pressure that I will have to deal with,” said Nottingham-based Shaw.
“But I have done all of my qualifications and I have been very fortunate to have worked with some top coaches at Derby County and was able to witness Paul Clement when he was first team manager and some of his stuff was out of this world. I’ll be pinching ideas and pinching ideas of Jon McCarthy as well.
“Clement has coached the best players in the world and he was very open and just opened up his laptop one evening and was showing a few of us coaches and showed us all his sessions and his thought process and how he plans his sessions. The stuff he was doing was for Ronaldo and Bale, so hopefully I can take some of that and help Jordan Chapell and Craig Mahon out a bit!
“Hopefully the lads will buy into my sessions and my way of coaching. I have got to earn their respect by putting on some good stuff. I’m excited for the challenge.”
With Chester having raised plenty of eyebrows with their business so far this summer, bringing in the likes of Turnbull, James, Ross Hannah and Andy Halls, Shaw believes the club have added not only upped the ante in terms of quality but also added more proven leaders to their ranks.
He said: “We managed to keep hold of some important players from last year’s squad and the additions will bring a lot to the club on and off the pitch. We did a lot of research into the characters, although we did know a lot of them already.
"They had to fit the bill, not just as players but as people. Better people make better players, some of the places you have to go in this league you need some characters and some leaders and we’re pleased with the business we have done.
“It shows the size of the club that people from all over the country want to move up here to play for this club. I think that it proves what a good manager that the club have got that players want to come and play for him when maybe they have got better opportunities elsewhere, financially or logistically.”