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Real Madrid’s Assistant Head Coach, Paul Clement, is talking about the challenge of coaching a collection of the very best footballers on the planet and admits the art of negotiation is vital. “It’s something for us, something for them,” explains the Englishman who, as part of Carlo Ancelotti's coaching team, is charged with refining the skills of Madrid’s glittering list of playing staff on a daily basis.


“The players would go out and play the Rondos and boxes [possession in tight areas] every day -the types of game which are really common in Spain.


“The players would love to do that, but it’s not what they need, so we try and give them a balance of things that are enjoyable, stimulating and competitive for them as well as the things they need tactically. Whether that is offensive or defensive, in transition or set plays. So we try and strike a balance.”


Striking a balance is something the 42 year-old has excelled at in an intriguing coaching career which has taken him from part-time grassroots coach to working at one of a handful of clubs that can rightly claim to be the biggest in the world.


The Londoner realised early in his playing career that he wouldn’t make it as a professional, instead combining his job as a full-time PE teacher with part-time coaching roles and believes the experience gave him the principles that have served him well throughout his career.


“I started working in grassroots football and worked in a number of Football in the Community schemes. My first was Wimbledon and then I worked at Chelsea and Aston Villa. It gave me a great foundation into some of the most


important things needed in coaching: communicating with people, being organised, planning and building your ideas of training exercises.”


The same fundamental coaching tasks still consume his packed daily routine – albeit he is now preparing sessions for an audience including two of the most expensive footballers in the world.


With Madrid currently embarking on a hectic end of season fixture schedule, it is unsurprising to learn that opportunities to enjoy the markets and arcades of the Spanish capital are few.


“We do play a lot of games here so when our schedule is back to back weekend and midweek games, we are in the training ground every day.”


Clement’s working day begins at 8.30am when he assesses the number of players available for training and makes any tweaks to the day’s practice session - planned meticulously the day before. A staff meeting and then time on the grass follow.


“We have a 9.30am meeting that includes the technical, physical and medical staff. We then get the final yes or no as to whether some of the players are available to train or not.


“Then we’ll go out onto the grass and set everything up – usually we work on two pitches side by side, so all the exercises are prepared. It ensures there’s no loss of the valuable time that we have to work and enables us to move from exercise to exercise. Training would last between an hour to 90 minutes maximum.”


"We try and give the players a balance of things that are enjoyable, stimulating and


competitive for them as well as the things they need tactically"


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