Martyn Margetson On His Blues-Inspired Route To Goodison
Years of experience have helped Martyn Margetson become one of football’s most respected goalkeeping coaches. And the newest recruit to Sam Allardyce’s backroom team explains why there’s strong Everton connections behind his journey to Goodison.
Shoot a rudimentary glance at Martyn Margetson’s footballing CV and your first impression is of a disparate career, with various strands jutting off north, south, east and west.
Study a little closer, however, and a thread emerges, binding everything together – and, perhaps, steering him in one direction.
Cut through the heart of Margetson’s 16 years playing the game and his ties to Everton are inescapable. The same applies to the 11 years and counting he has spent as a goalkeeper coach, with a Blue-tinged influence coming to bear at every critical turn.
Appointed to Sam Allardyce’s staff one month ago, it is probably not stretching it to say Margetson is fulfilling his destiny by working at Goodison Park.
He certainly did not need to leaf through the annuals and encyclopaedias to understand the rich-heritage of the club he has joined.
“Coming into the training ground you instantly get a feel for how big the club is and a sense of its history,” Margetson reveals.
“You look around and see the faces on the walls, there are some genuine greats up there.
“But I knew all about it anyway.
“My first manager at Manchester City was Howard Kendall and a lot of the things Howard and his backroom staff instilled in me – the value of a strong work ethic, how to present yourself off the pitch – I carry with me today. “Peter Reid was the manager who gave me my first-team debut [below in a Manchester derby won 1-0 by United at Old Trafford in May 1991].
“And I played under Alan Ball and Joe Royle as well.
“These legendary figures gave me my footballing education. I still pass today on what they taught me all those years ago.
“They gave me my beliefs in football – on and off the pitch. What I learned from them at Manchester City is why I am still in the game today.”
To say Margetson is still in the game is something of an understatement. He is the country’s foremost goalkeeper coach – a fact underlined by him filling that position for England’s national team.
He was initially appointed to the Three Lions role by Allardyce, whose alliance with Margetson, true to form, has its roots in an Everton connection.
The 46-year-old takes up the story of how the pair first came to be teamed up together at West Ham United following Allardyce’s appointment as boss of the London club in 2011.
“I was a teammate of Gary Speed’s with Wales Under-21s way back in the early ‘90s,” says Margetson, who earned one full cap for his country. “I had been coaching for a few years at Cardiff, then Gary offered me the chance to be part of his staff with Wales when he got that job in 2011.
“Before that, Gary and Sam had formed a close relationship when they were at Bolton – and when Sam eventually got the West Ham job, Gary recommended me to him.
“It was a very big decision for me to make. I had been at Cardiff a long time as a player and coach. But there was a change of manager [Malky Mackay was appointed Cardiff boss 10 days after Allardyce accepted the West Ham post] and a little bit of uncertainty around the club.
“My family had always been based in Cardiff, so it was a big change. But it is another decision I can look back on and know I did the right thing.”
Margetson’s previous big call had come five years earlier. He was 35 and had been a player at Cardiff for four years – having arrived in South Wales via Southend, who he joined from City in 1998, and Huddersfield Town.
More to the point, the prospect of shifting into a coaching position hadn’t entered his mind. Margetson, so far as he was concerned, had plenty left in his playing tank.
Cardiff boss and former Everton defender Dave Jones disagreed.
“Another person with an Everton connection gave me my start – Dave Jones offered me a player/coach role at Cardiff and I have a lot to thank him for,” says Margetson, before adding a nice line in self depreciation.
“I wanted to carry on playing…but I don’t think Dave had the same idea!
“He saw something in me as a coach and I am very, very grateful to him for that.
“It was not something I had really given any thought to, I expected to carry on playing. I had the chance to go to Bristol Rovers with one of my ex-managers, Lennie Lawrence.
“But the coaching chance came out of the blue. It was a toss-of-a-coin decision, but I made the right choice.”
Margetson spent more than two years back with Cardiff after leaving West Ham in 2014 – a period which encompassed him being an integral member of Chris Coleman’s Wales staff at Euro 2016 and subsequently accepting the invite to work for England.
He reunited with Allardyce at Crystal Palace 12 months ago and stayed at Selhurst Park until Everton presented him with a fresh and irresistible opportunity.
“Sam has 100 per cent faith in me to put across my message to the goalkeepers,” says Margetson, who confesses his international switch in 2016 was “hugely difficult but too good a chance to turn down”.
Everton great Neville Southall was an early inspiration for Margetson.
“We have been together a long time and know exactly how each other works.
“It is an all-consuming job. I try to look at the defensive side of our game as well, particularly defending set plays. I see that as part of my remit now.
“As I have become more experienced, I have tried to help the defenders help the goalkeeper.
“And with the goalkeepers, it is more than just analysing and working on their games. We look at what the opposition do attacking-wise, their set plays, everything.
“Ultimately, Sam expects his goalkeepers to keep the ball out of the net. How they do it – he does not really care. The bottom line is he wants them to make saves and make the right decisions.
“He doesn’t want them to reinvent the wheel.
“Sam has put together a really strong backroom staff. We are all based in the same office. We communicate a lot and continually share ideas.
“The important thing now is to get those messages across to the players. It is not easy and does take time.
“Everton has a wonderful support and they demand the best, which you expect at a club like this.
“Moving forward, I believe it could be extremely exciting here.”
Margetson, though, briefly allows himself one more glance into the past, right back to before the game became his trade and his days growing up as a football-daft youngster in Neath.
“Neville Southall was my absolute hero,” he says. “To think that I am here now, coaching at the Club where he was such a legend, it is amazing.”