The England Under-21 side play in San Marino tonight (Thursday) with a familiar face in the dugout. Steve Holland will be continuing in his role as assistant to Gareth Southgate, having already helped out the former England defender for the Under-21 games against Moldova and Finland last month.
Holland will work with the young England side for the duration of their Euro qualification campaign, geared towards earning a place at the tournament in the Czech Republic in 2015. Our assistant first team coach has been speaking about his role at international level and the experience he has gained since joining Chelsea in 2009.
‘I’ve really enjoyed it,’ Holland told FA.com, reflecting on the time he has spent with the England Under-21 side. ‘I’ve got to know Gareth and he is a good guy to work for.
‘The players have been really receptive and have got a good attitude towards the work. As time goes you’re developing relationships and getting to know people more and more.
‘Though you are limited with the impact you can make at international level, you can obviously have an effect so it’s just trying to make the most of that.’
Holland is also full of praise for the man who allowed him to link up with England, as well as the managers he has worked with before at Chelsea.
‘I enjoy working at Chelsea and I’m not looking to move out of that environment. But Jose [Mourinho] has always been very supportive of England and the national teams at all levels. He was very supportive of me coming, and that’s why I’m here.
‘I worked for a couple of years for the reserves at Chelsea, but in the past three or four years I’ve managed to have experience in the senior end as well,’ Holland said. ‘It’s been a great experience to add to the knowledge I’ve gained in the development role.
‘You do understand the big players who are at big clubs with big reputations. You understand how they operate and work and what motivates them, but also the guys who are looking to make progress and find their way.’
Holland joined the Blues from Crewe Alexandra, where he was the academy manager, and has since worked with some of the best managers in the world at Chelsea, naturally helping his own development as a coach.
‘They’re all good guys, and good guys to work for, and that’s why they get to the top.
‘They all have a slightly different way of doing things, whether it’s man-management, organisation, tactical or technical aspects.
‘It’s been a great learning curve for me to be able to tap into those minds, look at what’s succeeded and what perhaps hasn’t succeeded and why, and hopefully try and learn from that and improve myself.’
Following tonight’s game for England Under-21s in San Marino, they play another qualifier against Lithuania at Portman Road, Ipswich, on Tuesday.