“I came to Huddersfield Town Women with loads of performance analysis experience and now I want to earn my stripes and success in coaching – something this club will allow me to do.”
Assistant Manager Marcus Wilkinson looks forward to a bright future, with previous stints at Leeds United and Manchester City as a performance analyst.
As Town Women signed off with the 3-2 FA Cup win over Liverpool Feds before lockdown, we caught up with Marcus Wilkinson to reflect on what’s its really like to be an assistant manager in one of the toughest leagues in women’s football. Working as gaffer Jordan Wimpenny’s right-hand man, Marcus finds himself in very good company as he has his eyes big things in the near future.
As soon as the interview begins, you could instantly tell he is very passionate about his role.
“Marcus first of all we are going to talk about your background and how you got into coaching,” I said.
His reply was very refreshing to hear,
“in order to do my coaching badges, I needed to do some hands-on coaching so I asked to go down to Huddersfield Town Women, thankfully they took me on, and I’ve never looked back since.”
Marcus has always been involved in football from university, since the age of around 18-19. He started out as a performance analyst at AFC Fylde, went on to become an academy analyst at Burnley, before his big break at working full time for the first team at Leeds United and the academy at Manchester City.
He has continued to learn bits from everyone associated with football, but is aware how analysts are the hardest working members at clubs:
“Sometimes they are the most overlooked and their work often goes unnoticed as they are working behind the scenes.”
After years as an analyst, 2020 was his breakthrough year in coaching as Town gave him his first taste of standing on the sidelines. The 26-year-old believes it was a long time coming.
“It’s been a new challenge for me and one I feel like I really embraced.”
Born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, Marcus relishes the challenge of balancing his work and coaching duties and believes hard work is what is needed to get to the highest level.
“Commuting to Manchester every day and getting back to Huddersfield, getting up at 5am in the morning, and getting back to Manchester sometimes at 6pm in the evening. Tuesday and Thursday’s involves training and on the other days I have to plan the sessions. It can be a very hard slog but I manage to set aside enough time.”
Outside of coaching, Marcus works as part of a warehouse team for a clothing brand and admits
“it’s a totally different end to the spectrum to being out there on the grass and being a coach. I would love to work at the very top in the near future, in the Premier League,”
and believes working at the highest level day in day out is what dreams are made of.
When asked about his current inspiration, Marcus did not hesitate in mentioning Pep Guardiola
“The way he changed Barcelona and made them into the best team the world has ever seen, the way he works and how his methods come across on the pitch is fascinating. It’s amazing how fast-flowing his football is.”
He also looks up to David Wagner.
“The way he got everyone together and created an identity is very similar to what we want to do at Town Women.”
Having previously worked under the highly rated manager, he has seen how much Guardiola has had an impact at Manchester City, but knows his previous analyst roles were also a massive learning curve.
“Hopefully I have taken snippets from Guardiola and snippets from my time at Leeds United and can mould them into one. I see the game from a different experience – being at City showed me a way of playing and different ideas which I have shared with Jordan.”
Speaking about his working relationship under manager Jordan Wimpenny, Marcus was high of praise.
“I have learnt a lot ever since Jordan came in last year. We clicked straight away and share similar ideas of what we want from individuals and the team. Jordan is always pushing me and demanding the best from me day in day in out and I demand the best from him.
He has put a great deal of trust in me which I’m thankful for and he listens to me regarding team selection. He’s very professional in the way he carries himself.”
Assistant Manager Marcus relives his relationship with Jordan before the Stoke game, which Town won 8-1.
“We had a few disagreements on team selection and personnel and, in the end, he went with the ideas that I wanted to go with.”
As the conversation drew to an end, I went on to ask Marcus about what he does the night before a game.
“I try and get a rest because I’m always up first thing in the morning excited for the match. I like to take it easy and try not to worry too much about the game. Sometimes you can overthink things and, when you overthink things, you overcomplicate everything.”
Marcus knows his role as an assistant manager is vital and the bright young prospect has dreams of taking the team to the highest level possible alongside Wimpenny and said he would enjoy working in the Women’s Super League one day. Here’s to hoping he achieves it in the Blue and White.
Marcus wishes everyone associated to the club
“a happy new year and beyond, and we look forward to seeing fans back at the Stafflex Arena very soon.”
Interview by Jack Walker