Football - FA give 'long ball guru' Beck key coaching role

The FA have handed a key coaching role to coach John Beck who almost guided Cambridge United into the Premier League in the early 90s.

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Football - FA give 'long ball guru' Beck key coaching role
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John Beck

Beck was a controversial figure in management due to his devoted use of the long-ball and is now helping the FA to bring up the next generation of coaches.

His appointment will raise eyebrows though due to the controversial methods he used during Cambridge's climb up the divisions from the fourth tier to the brink of the Premier League between 1990 and 1992.

Beck was known to have moved the opposition dugout to near the corner flag, where he also made sure the grass was longer to aid his team's long-ball game; he also instructed ball boys to take longer to give the ball back; gave visitors half-inflated practice balls; and turned off the heating in their dressing room.

There is no indication he promotes such tactics in his latest position, which was revealed by Daniel Taylor in Sunday's edition of the Observer.

"Beck, known for his almost obsessive devotion to route-one tactics, is being employed by the FA to help licensed and unlicensed coaches qualify for their badges despite his notorious reliance on long-ball football during a career that once saw him offering cash bonuses for whichever of his players at Cambridge United kicked the ball the furthest," writes the paper.

"The Observer has discovered that the man who was once dubbed Dracula in football circles, because his critics accused him of sucking the life out of football, has established himself with the domestic game's governing body and works on its Level 2 and UEFA B courses, with the responsibility to try to improve the standard of coaching throughout England and Wales."

The FA confirmed to the Observer that Beck was indeed employed by them.

"The FA employ John because of his understanding of coach education and of the FA's playing and coaching philosophy, which he fully believes in," they said.

Beck also had spells managing Preston North End, Lincoln City, Histon and Kettering Town.

As a player in the 1970s and 80s he played for QPR, Coventry City, Fulham, Bournemouth and Cambridge.

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