Michael Skubala joins Leeds United’s youth set-up following the promotion to first team duties for the previous under-21 head coach, Mark Jackson.
Skubala brings strong pedigree through his career at the FA, initially building his way up to being England Futsal head coach after a four-year stint as Director of Football at Loughborough University. He went on to become England under-18s coach.
When speaking with The FA during his time as England Futsal head coach, Skubala emphasises giving his players the ownership and responsibility on the pitch within a “framework” where they can make the decisions and experiment within the tactical approach that he sets.
Skubala focuses on individual development to strengthen his group of players, emphasising the importance of taking responsibility for their actions on the pitch and engaging with the group’s approach toward any given match. That said, he’s quite happy knowing when it’s time for him to step in and instruct the players directly on what he wants, and clearly understands the balance of authority required, particularly for young players.
He did this by assigning each third of the pitch to the group members:
- Defensive Third: belongs to Skubala. As England Futsal Head Coach, he demanded two-touch football with no more than two negative passes in a row.
- Middle Third: shared between the coaches and the players. This is where the team need to take some more responsibility, keeping in line with the principles of the defensive third.
- Attacking Third: belongs to the players. Skubala encourages his team to get creative when attacking the opposition, promoting individuality in each player’s own skillset as the game becomes much quicker going forward.
As part of the announcement on leedsunited.com, Victor Orta had this to say:
“The role of head coach within the Under-21 side is clearly an important role at a club that sees so many players progress into the first team.
“We interviewed candidates from across the world over the course of the summer, but the work Michael has done within the FA, alongside his ambitious plans for the group, gave him the edge and we are really pleased to welcome him to the club.”
Head of Academy, Adam Underwood added:
“This is another clear sign of progression for our academy. The academy at Leeds United is a key part of our DNA and we believe that Michael is the best possible candidate to improve the group he will be working with, whilst preparing them to make the step up to becoming first-team players.”