Jim McGuinness begins his UEFA Pro Licence course today, just two weeks before he starts pre-season with his new club, Charlotte Independence.
McGuinness, Donegal’s 2012 All-Ireland winning manager, has transitioned from GAA manager to soccer boss with USL Championship side Charlotte giving the Glenties man a big chance.
Previously, McGuinness worked at Celtic and Beijing Sinobo Guoan.
When he went to Celtic first in 2012, he was employed as a performance consultant and hadn’t even completed a Kickstart course – the first step on the FAI’s coaching ladder.
From there, however, McGuinness has gone right up the pyramid and the Glenties man clearly has big ambitions as he heads Stateside. His wife, Yvonne, and their six children have all re-located to North Carolina.
“There is a ceiling in everything and you’ve got to break through that ceiling,” McGuinness said as he gets ready for the 2019 season with The Jacks, who finished 11th last season.
“My first job is to get people in, the next job is to work on the pitch and get the team working the way you want and get the team really competitive in games.
“You get comfortable in an environment and when you get comfortable, you try to push yourself and stretch yourself again.
“If I can make the best of that, my intention is move to the next level and continue on that journey.
“It might not happen here and people will go: ‘He’s a GAA manager, it was never going to happen here’. I’m not thinking about that, I’m just thinking about getting most out of players.”
McGuinness’s rise through the various coaching certificates and licences is one of the most rapid.
In the 18-month Pro Licence group, he’ll be joined by Finn Harps assistant manager Paul Hegarty and Harps coach William O’Connor, not to mention others including former Ireland captain Robbie Keane.
McGuinness has been busy with Charlotte and has named Félix Sarriugarte, the former Athletic Bilbaoi manager, as his new assistant.
“I think I do have a vision,” McGuinness said when asked how his team can be expected to play.
“I wouldn’t be absolutely wedded to anything. You always need something up your sleeve and be able to mix it up. the principals have to be there every single day.
“You have your own style, your own vision, what you want to do and what you want to achieve. It’s up to you and your coaching staff to sell the vision and work on that on a daily basis.
“The dynamic is the same. It’s about working through the processes and having people there who want to be there and who want to work hard.”
McGuinness worked under managers Neil Lennon, Ronny Deila, Brendan Rodgers and Roger Schmidt before landing his own job.
He spoke of how Schmidt ‘blew my mind away’ when he joined the ex-Bayer Leverkusen manager in Beijing.
He explained: “The heat out there in summer was phenomenal but, still, the level of intensity players able to bring to the game was something that I hadn’t seen before.”