Pompey man's licensed to coach
Carl Baker has told how he's been bitten by the coaching bug.
While his Pompey team-mates have been recuperating in far-flung holiday destinations, the attacking talent has spent a summer fortnight in a far less exotic location.
Burton upon Trent and the FA’s magnificent St George’s Park has been Baker’s home as he undertakes his Uefa B licence.
That’s been a progression after completing his FA Level 2 certificate with his Blues team-mates last term. Coaching had never previously been on the 34-year-old’s radar but now he can see it as an avenue to pursue.
He said: ‘I’ve been at St George’s Park doing the course.
‘I did the Level 2 at Pompey and I was speaking to (PFA coach) Iffy Onuora who said there’s the chance to do it at St George’s Park, so I’ve gone straight on to my Uefa B licence.
‘It’s two weeks out of your summer and I was dreading it at first. But it’s been a lot more interesting than what I thought it was going to be.
‘After going into the detail and understanding it, I’m already thinking of doing my A licence and pushing on.
‘It’s a bit of a bug I’ve been bitten by.
‘The Level 2 is really basic but gives you the fundamentals.
‘The Uefa B is a lot more detailed, though, and there’s a big step between the two.
‘When you’ve been involved in football for so long, you’d like to think you have an idea. But it’s really interesting looking at things from a coach’s point of view rather than a player.’
The residential stay at St George’s Park also gave Baker the chance to use the first-class facilities and catch up with old friends.
He said: ‘The England first team were there and so were the under-21s.
‘I’ve played with Deli (Alli) who was there and there was Aidy Boothroyd, who I played under.
‘The facilities are something else.
‘The food there is brilliant and the pitches are the same dimensions as Wembley.
‘There’s also a fella with a licence to fly a drone who flew it over our sessions.
‘The cameras give you a bird’s eye view of your sessions.
‘It’s a brilliant angle because you can clearly see formations and the runs players make.
‘You can see if someone’s out of shape and the patterns of play.
‘We’ve been lucky to have access to those facilities.’