It took a long time... a very long time.. but it appears that Newcastle United are set to make their first recruitment breakthrough of the Steve McClaren era. Multiple locations are suggesting that the recruitment of 28 year-old Scot Ian Cathro is set to draw to a positive conclusion. Insert the standard "until he's holding the shirt" disclaimer here, but it seems that the deal is close enough that the BBC and Sky are willing to jump in, so a breakdown seems unlikely at this point... but Newcastle United.
So what is an Ian Cathro?
Ian Cathro is young. Very young for a coach at 28. He started coaching ball control skills in his native Dundee at the age of 18. His local youth sides were performing at a higher technical level than similar level youth at Dundee United which prompted then manager Craig Levein to recruit Cathro as Youth Academy Manager. He added involvement with the Scottish National Team development program to his portfolio before moving into first division coaching 5 months later.
In 2012, he moved away from Dundee to join up with Nuno Santo, a retired Portuguese goalkeeper with whom he had made connections at an SFA coaching clinic. Cathro had made a presentation at the clinic to which Nuno had offered a "huge item of praise and a huge item of criticism" which influenced him greatly to join Nuno at Rio Ave in Portugal. He has been part of Nuno's backroom staff ever since, most recently at La Liga side Valencia.
Cathro's speciality has been the ball control and skill training that he started his career upon 10 years ago. In fact, he has made a business of his ideas regarding skill training called BOX Soccer Training. Essentially, he has taken legendary soccer table game Subbuteo and turned it into a training ground fixture. Of course it goes deeper than that, but his selling point is that you don't have to move cones, replacing them with pieces very reminiscent of the pieces from the game that training then rotates around instead of vice versa.
In Cathro, Steve McClaren is getting a rising star in coaching, but also is bringing in a coach with a specific skillset that could be tremendously beneficial to Newcastle United. As the Alan Pardew era progressed, Newcastle got less and less comfortable on the ball and ball movement shrank and shrank to a first choice of HOOOF IT and a second choice of HOOOOOOOF IT LONGER. We have players who have demonstrated ball skills in their career. Ian Cathro may be the coach to remind the players what Pardew beat out of them.