Eric Kinder has expressed his delight at being named Rovers’ new Head of Academy.
The appointment sees Eric return to the Rovers Academy, where he spent seven years as a coach between 1999 and 2006, before heading north to Carlisle.
The experienced youth boss was brought back to Brockhall by manager Gary Bowyer in the summer of 2013, to take on the role of Rovers’ Under-21 head coach and he has guided the club’s young charges to the final of the Under-21 Premier League Cup this season.
Speaking on his first day in the job, Eric outlined his plans to re-establish a production line of players for the first team.
Eric, how does it feel to be Rovers’ new Head of Academy?
It’s strange, because when it first came up it never entered my head. I had a fantastic job working with the Under-21s. I was born in Blackburn, I spent my early days in coaching at Preston for five years and it was the happiest day of my life when I got offered a part-time job here in 1999. For it to come round to this, looking back at those days, I never would have thought this day would happen. I’m absolutely delighted and it’s the proudest day of my life. I’ve left a fantastic job and I’ve walked into an even better one, at my club, and I can’t wait to get started. This is where it all began for me and I can’t really believe I’m sat here now.
Is this job the pinnacle for you in your coaching career?
Ever since I started at Preston North End in 1993, everything just seems to have been a natural progression. It’s something that I love doing and to work for your boyhood club is a dream for everybody. I went away to Carlisle to get experience, which was the right thing to do. It was hard leaving, but it was the right decision. And it was even harder to leave Carlisle to come back, but again it was the right decision to take the Under-21s post. It was a natural progression for me in my coaching career. And then, 18 months later, to be installed as Head of Academy, is a dream come true and I can’t wait to get going.
It’s clear to see what the manager is trying to achieve at first team level. How important is it that we get things right from the bottom upwards and what do we need to do here at the Academy to make that happen?
We’ve got to produce players – it’s as simple as that. You can look at the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan), but it all boils down to how many players you provide to the first team manager over a period of time. We’ve had a good record over the years, but it’s dried up a little bit and what we’ve got to do now is get that going again. And I’ll do everything in my power to do that. I had success at Carlisle with it, albeit at a lower level, but I’ve got my own ideas, my own standards, my own beliefs and I’ll share them with the rest of the staff as we go on, but the bottom line is, we have got to produce players for the first team.
Given the club’s finances and the fact that we’re currently under a transfer embargo, it must be even more important for this club to be producing home-grown talent?
Exactly. I had the same problems at Carlisle. They couldn’t go out and splash money on 16-year-olds and hope that it works out. We’ve got to work hard. Recruitment have got to work hard to get us the best raw materials that we can work with and the coaching staff have got to work hard to develop the players. So all of us have got to share the responsibility, because Blackburn Rovers is not the same as it was 15 years ago and it will help the first team manager if he’s got a few local lads to pick from and he doesn’t have to go out and buy.
Is it going to be a big challenge, but a challenge that you’re excited by?
A massive challenge. I think it’s the biggest challenge that I’ve ever had. I still can’t believe it, but I’m ready for it and I’m looking forward to it. I want to change the world in five days and I can’t do that, but I understand that. I’ve got a good first team manager, who I’ve known a long time and he knows that I will only do things that I think are for the good of the club. Between us, we’ve got an unbelievable amount of knowledge at youth level and hopefully we’ll get it right.
You will be assisted by Stuart Jones. How key was his appointment?
It’s a massive appointment. Stuart changes his title to Operations Manager, which basically means he’ll look after the EPPP and that side of things, and I’ll oversee all the football side, in terms of the recruitment and coaching, as well as the day-to-day running of the Academy. I trust Stuart 100%. He’s a fantastic bloke and I really made my point that I wanted Stuart alongside me and I think we’ll make a good team.
How sorry are you to be leaving the Under-21s and how proud are you of what you’ve achieved this season with them?
It’s been difficult. Everybody says that it’s the hardest job in football, because the first team take players off you and you have players go out on loan, so it is difficult and it takes a while to get to grips with. Our cup run has made the season very interesting and I’ll still be around the Under-21s for as long as the manager needs me. That’s the agreement we have at the moment. John (Filan) will take all the training and I’ll be around for matchdays, and I’m more than happy to carry on my role as Under-21s head coach until they find a replacement.