Ian Cathro has Newcastle fans feeling optimistic

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47

Written for NUFC360 - a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates. Follow them @NUFC360

Some positivity from Newcastle fans in a rather dark transfer window? Say it ain’t so! St. James Park hadn’t been this electric in months, maybe years, on May 24th, 2015, the day NUFC defeated West Ham. Anything less than 3 points and the Magpies could have been relegated for the 2nd time in 6 seasons. With a startling 2-0 victory and goals by Moussa Sissoko and Jonas Gutierrez, Newcastle was safe and assured themselves a spot in the English Premier League for the next season. Before the match, owner Mike Ashley had promised that he would invest in the team in the upcoming transfer window if Newcastle won the match and avoided relegation. Everyone expected that the 2-0 victory against West Ham was nothing but a stepping-stone in the right direction and with a progressive transfer window, there would be a sense of optimism. Fans figured that once Steve McClaren would be appointed manager, transfers would start rolling in. July is around the corner and Newcastle have done absolutely nothing but be linked with half of Europe. My assumption - as you can read here - was that ownership and McClaren wanted to settle the backroom staff before beginning with their transfer signings. A few days ago, rumours began to swirl that a 28-year-old by the name of Ian Cathro was set to be appointed as Steve McClaren’s #2. 28 years old? Really? Is that the best thing for this team? What makes Ian Cathro so special?

Cathro’s football playing career ended early due to multiple injuries, he therefore decided to begin a coaching school in Dundee while he was still a teenager. The school was called “Master the Ball, Master the Game”, a specialization on the technical side of the game of football. The main emphasis of Cathro’s philosophy was to think two steps ahead before receiving the ball; to put yourself in the player that is receiving’s the ball mind and think about what options are available to him once he collects the ball. With names like John Souttar (made his Dundee United debut at 16), Ryan Gauld (playing for Sporting Lisbon, nicknamed Baby Messi), amongst many others, Cathro had created a school that was developing masses of great football players. Out of the 50 students he had, 12 are now playing professionally. Cathro eventually worked for

Dundee United’s academy team until 2012, where he met a man who would help speed up his coaching career and dream. While completing his coaching qualifications under the Scottish Football Association, Ian Cathro met Nuno Espírito Santo, then manager of Rio Ave and now at Valencia. Their relationship hit off immediately, Nuno was extremely impressed by Cathro’s mind and intelligence in football tactics, especially at his young age. A few weeks later, Cathro was extended the opportunity to join Nuno at Rio Ave in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and become his assistant. The two men would go on to have a 31-16-31 record at Rio Ave from 2012-2014 and qualified for Europa League for the first time in team history. Nuno was then appointed manager of Valencia in 2014 and Cathro once again joined his staff. The two men lead Valencia to a 22-9-6 record, good enough for 4th in the league and a spot in Champions League. Nuno and Cathro had formed a dynamic coaching duo until recently when Cathro’s family had problems settling in Spain and he had decided to move back home. He resigned from his position at Valencia on June 11th, 2015 and was heavily linked to some vacant managerial positions. Sources say that Rangers was one of the clubs calling for Cathro, amongst many others. Rangers decided to go with Mark Warburton and Cathro elected to join Steve McClaren’s staff at Newcastle. Ryan Gauld explained how imperative Ian Cathro was to his development, “a lot of nights of the week we would just work on awareness, just knowing what’s about you. It’s a key part of my game”. Newcastle are hoping he can have that same impact on the likes of Rolando Aarons, Adam Armstrong and many others. Unlike Valencia, Newcastle is not going to be in the Champions League next year but Ian Cathro knows playing in the English Premier League can set him up for a top job in a few years. There is a definite sense of frustration and impatience coming from NUFC fans, and with good reason. It may seem like the sky is falling but in a rather dark and action-less transfer window, bringing Ian Cathro in is a crucial step in the right direction for a team who intends on removing their stigma.

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