Assistant manager Oakley does not like being on the training pitch

Matt Oakley
Matt Oakley

Matt Oakley said he prefers the classroom to the football pitch when it comes to preparing players for games.

The new Dons assistant manager has been a part of Paul Tisdale's backroom staff for a year after hanging up his boots in 2017, but admitted he did not expect to see himself going into coaching when he retired from the game.

Working 'hands on' with the players for just three days a week at Exeter, Oakley was tasked with analysis, scouring over footage of the opposition before meeting with the players and thrashing out their plan of attack. And it worked too, with the Grecians reaching the League 2 playoff final last season, for the second consecutive year.

While the likes John Gorman, Gary Waddock, Richie Barker and Keith Millen before him who were all keen coaches, Oakley believes too much time is wasted on grass and feels more can be done away from the pitch to improve the way teams play.

He explained: "The majority of my role is on the opposition, I have a good handling on analysis. I can coach but I don’t particularly like being out there – I think a lot of time is wasted on grass. I like to use video and visuals with players, that’s how I worked as a player. I work with psychologists, different areas of learning.

"I like to bring different ways to players, we’re all different and all learn in different ways. I like to understand players on a one-to-one basis. I work a lot with injured lads – I’ve had three pretty major injuries myself so I know what it’s like to be left alone in the gym. I’ve been captain at every club I’ve been at so I know how to deal with directors, chairman, media, fans. I have a good understanding of every part of a club.

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"The way football is moving forward, especially with TV, the analysis side of the game is developing. Sports science, nutrition and that side is changing too. The diet is totally different to when I started playing! Some clubs over look it or don’t understand it, don’t want to understand it. You can get over-complicated with it and muddy the waters – sometimes simple is best. I like to look at everything, strip it back and give the players key information so they can go out and perform.

"I don’t think I’m used best if I’m on the grass all the time. I can work on a player’s strengths and weaknesses on grass, but at the right times. Paul is a much better coach than I’ll ever be. I do what I can off the field to allow him to do what he’s best at, and that’s leading the team and coaching them in a way that wins matches."