Hyde United Manager has a thirst for learning

Darren Kelly has played and managed in professional football, developed academies, and equipped himself with internationally recognised coaching qualifications.

But at 39-years-old, his thirst for learning is far from quenched. The Hyde United FC manager has ambitions to become a director of football and is confident VSI’s MSc in Sporting Directorship can help get him there. He starts in September.

“Even when I was playing, I was always very interested in the after-football side of things,” said Kelly, who enjoyed a long career in English football, with notable Football League spells with Carlisle United and York City.

“I armed myself with my (UEFA) pro licence and (League Managers Association) Diploma in Football Management which geared me towards the other side of the game.

“But this course is something that fascinates me. I look at the content, the people who are going to be on it and, to be honest, I can’t wait to get started.”

After calling time on a storied 19-year senior playing career in 2015, the former Northern Ireland Under-21 international became an academy coach at Sunderland.

He has since managed Oldham Athletic and Halifax Town before joining non-league Hyde United, whom he led to promotion to the Northern Premier League last season.

But having fulfilled a wide-ranging role with the Greater Manchester club, the former defender already has experience beyond the dugout – and has a clear vision of what he can offer as a football director.

“My take on the role is to let the manager train, coach and manage the team so he can focus on getting results on the pitch, while the director of football takes care of the things the manager doesn’t need the hassle of doing – the scouting, handling the contracts, those type of things,” said Kelly, a qualified sports therapist.

“It’s a European model that the likes of Huddersfield Town have bought into for a number of years now. But it’s my belief that with the fantastic work being done by the likes of VSI and people like myself taking this route, it will get to the point where chairmen and owners are going to take more notice of what the role entails and its advantages.

“My personal opinion is this role plays a fantastic link between the board and the football management team. But for me, it’s not about team selection as is often the case in Europe – it’s about supporting the manager.”

Kelly is a keen student of the game and has taken numerous trips to observe how European clubs operate. The VSI programme will add another “feather to his cap” as he strives to impress his ideas upon football chairmen and owners.

“I have played to a very good standard, but not to the Premier League level which can make things a little bit easier when it comes to getting into management. Coming from a lower league/non-league background, I have to enhance my CV as best I can. I’ve already done that with my pro licence and diploma, but this course makes my CV look very, very serious.

“I have contacts throughout Europe, I have knowledge of talent, of structures, and experience in developing academies from scratch and linking those into the first team. But above all else, I have such passion and enthusiasm for the game. I feel I have so much to offer and believe the course will provide me with the opportunity to do that.”

For more information on the VSI MSc in Sporting Directorship contact:

Tel: 0345 459 9765
Twitter: @MasterSportDir