The recent news that Terry Burton – who was Dave Jones’ assistant at Cardiff City – has joined the Owls in a coaching capacity did not surprise many fans.
After all, Jones has been reunited with several of his former employees in the past.
He managed Paul Jones and Kevin Cooper at three different clubs – as well as Lee Todd, Chris Marsden, Mark Kennedy, Sean Connelly, Tony Dinning and Michael Oakes at two different clubs.
Furthermore, Burton is highly experienced and can be regarded as one of the most underrated coaches in English football.
But what can Sheffield Wednesday fans expect from Burton?
Young at heart
After retiring early as a player and becoming a coach in schools, Burton joined Arsenal as a youth team coach in 1979.
As well as working with the likes of Paul Merson, he was credited with influencing Tony Adams’ career after spotting his leadership abilities at a young age.
Burton’s coaching ethos at Arsenal was based on taking footballers as individuals and making them better players, rather than forcing them to fit into a particular style or formation.
His efforts were soon rewarded with spells as Arsenal’s first team and reserve team coach.
After a brief tenure at Wealdstone, Burton joined Wimbledon in 1988. One of his earliest roles at the club was coaching the Crazy Gang’s youth team – which included players such as Chris Perry, Neal Ardley, Peter Fear and Stewart Castledine – with great success.
For instance, Burton’s team reached the FA Youth Cup semi-final. From this, it is clear that Burton – who mentored Aaron Ramsey at Cardiff City – has a proven track record in coaching and developing young players.
It is fair to say that Sheffield Wednesday’s youth system has not been a priority for several years and many recent academy graduates have underachieved.
If Burton can tap into the potential of youngsters like Liam Palmer, and ensure that they use their talents on a more consistent basis, he can improve the Owls’ future.
An innovative man
Burton also assisted Joe Kinnear at Wimbledon, and he later became the club’s technical and youth academy director.
His spell as the Dons’ technical director, in particular, established Burton as an intelligent and forward thinking coach.
For instance, and in contrast to Sam Hammam’s view that the club should scout players from Brentford and Leyton Orient, Burton was keen to see what top Russian strikers did. This was done in order to develop new coaching methods at Wimbledon’s academy.
During this era, he also took a year’s sabbatical from coaching – where he studied the training methods used by Barcelona, Ajax and the Clairefontaine technical centre – to develop fresh and innovative ideas.
His work at Wimbledon interested Glenn Hoddle, who was keen to recruit Burton as a coach for the England national team, but the Dons rejected Hoddle’s approach.
A strong coach
He also managed Wimbledon, between 2000 and 2002, where he used attacking formations in an attempt to give the club a new image.
He left the club in April 2002, after falling out with the board, and was employed as Ray Lewington’s assistant at Watford between 2002 and 2004.
Burton was seen as an influential figure at Vicarage Road – while the Blind, Stupid and Desperate fanzine stated that he took full responsibility for coaching first team players.
Former Cardiff City loanee Stephen Bywater, meanwhile, recently told the Yorkshire Post that Burton conducted a significant amount of coaching at the Bluebirds.
Don’t be surprised if a similar thing happens at Sheffield Wednesday.
Will it work?
To Jones’ credit, though, Burton’s move to the Owls has been handled with care and dignity.
For instance, Jones has insisted that the club’s assistant manager, Chris Evans, will be retained. This is a wise decision because axing coaches like Evans would unsettle the club.
Continuity is crucial, especially at this stage of the season; just look at Chelsea’s stagnation since Ray Wilkins’ departure.
There is no doubt that Burton’s arrival will complement the existing coaching set-up and improve the Owls’ promotion bid.
Forget about the tedious speculation regarding potential transfers, Terry Burton could be Dave Jones’ most important signing at Hillsborough.
This feature was published by War Of The Monster Trucks in March 2012.
Massarella, L. (2000) Centre Cort, Wimbledon. FourFourTwo, May 2000, p.74-78.