Chelsea U18 assistant coach James Simmonds will spend at least the first half of next season with AFC Wimbledon. according to the official announcement from the club of the First League.
Simmonds, a former Chelsea trainee who retired early and started coaching at a young age, has held the U18 position for the past two seasons, having previously worked with (mostly) the same group of players at the under 15 and 16 levels. This is a fairly common practice at the Academy and part of our world-class development program not only for players, but also for coaches.
Coaching loans are far less common, although Chelsea did something very similar to Andy Myers a few years ago by asking him spend 2016-17 season with Vitesse before returning to continue his progress with the Blues, he became U23 assistant, U18 head coach and, for the past two seasons, head coach of the U23 development team (assistants John Harley and Eric Ramsay).
Presumably, 33-year-old Simmonds could follow a similar plan in the future after getting to know senior football in the first team – an idea no different from standard player loans.
“When I gave a presentation to Chelsea that we are borrowing their best young pros, I also mentioned the opportunity to bring in their best young coaches and provide them with core team experience.”
“I was very happy with how it worked with England’s Justin Cochrane last season. We have benefited from his coaching ideas and shared love for the game and I know he has benefited from the experiences he has with us. It will be the same with James, who has coached Chelsea for 10 years. He is a high-class trainer who admires him and will come to us with a fresh perspective, which is great if you are constantly changing the work environment and building the culture. “
-Mark Robinson, manager; a source: AFC Wimbledon
Wimbledon finished 19th last season, 4 points above the relegation zone. Simmonds may well be followed by a couple of players.
It is unclear who will take on the role of Simmonds’ assistant on the Chelsea U18 squad currently headed by Ed Brand. Like Myers, Brand has been in the role for the past two seasons, and that often means it’s time for a reshuffle.