THE JIM MCGUINNESS voyage continues.
The former Donegal manager announced his departure from Chinese Super League club Beijing Sinobo Guoan last week after seven months working as assistant to ex-Bayer Leverkusen boss Roger Schmidt.
With his wife and six children still based in Glasgow, McGuinness has set his sights on a coaching role back in Europe.
Golfer Paul McGinley, who is a close friend of the All-Ireland winning manager, says McGuinness is fully focused on building a career in professional football and won’t be returning to coach in the GAA anytime soon.
“I spoke to him last week. Jim’s okay,” McGinley said at the GAA Games Development Conference in Croke Park on Saturday.
“He’s on a plan. A lot of things are confidential that I can’t talk about but he’s on a plan. He’s got one year to go before he’s fully qualified and he’s flying through his exams and doing great.
He’s learning everywhere, he’s going to conferences all around Europe. (He has) a big connection obviously with Celtic. Don’t worry about Jim McGuinness. He’s not coming back to the GAA, put it that way. The Dubs can take a big, deep breath!
“I think he’s a year away from (getting his Uefa Pro License). He’s been flying through his exams, he’s on a good path. It’s tough, he’s basically going back to school and re-learning.
“It’s not easy and he has lots of kids and family commitments. His family are living over in Glasgow now, so it’s tough, it’s not easy for him. But he’s got a lot of ambition, a lot of determination.”
The 2014 Ryder Cup captain met McGuinness through his own father, Mick, who played for Donegal between 1959 and 1961. The two have since become very close confidants.
“We chat about things, absolutely, all the time. We speak regularly, and he’s a good man. Him and my Dad are great friends, he’s from the town right next to where my Dad’s from in Donegal. I was very lucky and privileged to be riding shotgun for those four years when he was on that wave of Donegal.
To be listening to him over Christmas and the winter months about what he was planning for the year and then to watch how that all evolved was interesting. It mightn’t be fair to say, but it was kind of a Leicester City, they weren’t one of the powerhouses in Gaelic Games so to rise to the top and win an All-Ireland was a great feel-good story.”
In June 2012, the Dubliner introduced McGuinness to Dermot Desmond, the majority stakeholder of Celtic FC, at the Irish Open pro-am in Royal Portrush.
Shortly after Donegal’s Sam Maguire success that September, the Glenties man was appointed as performance director for the Scottish Premier League champions. When McGinley was named Ryder Cup captain in 2013, he sought advice from McGuinness on man management and team dynamics.
“One of the main principles in what I did in the Ryder Cup captaincy was about the individual. I’m always interested to hear GAA managers talk about the team and I’m always interested to hear the debate that you’ve always got to do it for your team-mates, that it’s all about the team. I wouldn’t be in that place.
“I think the role of the individual is underplayed in the importance of success in sport, and in leadership.
“It’s my view that you’ve got to empower the individual. It’s probably something that underpinned my captaincy more than anything else. We had a huge quote there as you went into our team room – ‘The best team work comes from those people working as individuals towards one goal in unison.’
“I was taking people from an individual sport, putting them in a team environment and the best way I could get them to work as a team was if I kept them as individuals.
“I had an ethos going through the whole (Ryder Cup) week, one of the phrases I used – ‘Wave after wave of attack.’ I learnt it from Jim McGuinness. Jim’s view was you don’t necessarily start with your best 15, but you’ve got to finish with it.
“If you’ve got a really good energetic forward, sometimes it’s better not to start him. Wait until the full-backs are tired and then put him on with 20 minutes to go where he’s fresh and you can take advantage of tired full-backs.
“So that was the way I was talking to those four guys who weren’t playing. I’d empathy with them about the wave after wave of attack. It wasn’t that they were the second rate, just that they were suited to the afternoon wave when we’re going to hit them with the first wave, hit them with the second and hit them with the third. On and on and on. So they felt they were like the second wave and not left out.”
The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):