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Rob Edwards excelling as a coach at Wolves

Sport | Published:

It began with a 5-3 defeat in the pouring rain and ended with an international cup victory on the back of a six-game winning run.

Rob Edwards - Under 18 Head Coach - Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Not bad for your first season as a coach at Wolves,

writes Tim Spiers.

Rob Edwards embarked on a new chapter by taking on his role as under-18s boss last summer.

Having retired from playing aged just 30, like-able defender Edwards took little time in forging a new career path.

He joined Scott Sellars in being signed up by the Molineux hierarchy in a revamp on the club's coaching set-up.

Despite an indifferent start results-wise, the under-18s came on leaps and bounds throughout the season.

A six-game winning run featured victories over Manchester City and Manchester United.

Rob Edwards during his playing days with Wolves.

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And then came a triumphant end to the campaign as Edwards and Sellars joined forces to lead the the under-19s side to victory in an international competition in Germany.

Looking back on his first season the Shropshire-born coach – who also featured for Villa and Shrewsbury Town in his injury-curtailed career - wanted to get involved 'straight away' in coaching.

He said: "It's my first full-time position in coaching and from a personal point of view, I wanted to get involved straight away.

"I got to know the lads fairly quickly, and discovered they're a really good group of hard-working young players who are competitive and want to impress.

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"They all wanted to show me they wanted to be playing and they wanted chances at under-21 level as well.

"We had a pre-season game within a week of me coming in and I remember it was against Birmingham on the Astroturf and it absolutely tipped down with rain.

"It ended up I think losing 5-3 which was an interesting one and I remember thinking, 'okay, small steps!'.

"But then in the first game of the season we beat Derby 2-1 which was a great start.

"In between the two games we worked on different things and the lads had really bought in to what we were trying to do. From there it's been great really."

Edwards, who took over from Mick Halsall, said there were only three or four games during the 31-game campaign when the team didn't perform.

He praised the youngsters for their consistency and added: "The way they've raised their levels and lifted themselves week after week has been really impressive.

"And now they've got to continue it because it never stops, all the way through until you retire."

Last month's dramatic under-19 tournament win saw Wolves lift the Bitzer Cup, defeating Mexican outfit Chivas Guadalajara 5-4 on spot-kicks, goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne finishing the hero after making the crucial save.

Jordan Graham, who was named player of the tournament, had earlier been on target as the game finished 1-1.

And Wolves impressively reached the final without conceding, beating Red Star Belgrade 2-0 in the semi-finals thanks to a brace from Connor Ronan, Graham assisting in both.

A 0-0 draw against Ajax Cape Town in the final group game saw Wolves make the semis as group winners.

Edwards said: "It's been a really enjoyable season with a fair few highlights.

"The last-minute winner in the FA Youth Cup at Rotherham when Jesse Devers scored for one, even the next round at Tottenham – although we lost – was a really high-level game and a proper game.

"Spurs got to the semi-finals and pushed Chelsea, and we were close to them.

"Going eight games unbeaten towards the end of the season, and winning six in a row including against Manchester City and United, that was fantastic.

"And then finishing off working with Scott with the under-19 group which won the tournament in Germany.

"The best thing has been the way everyone has applied themselves.

"There are always going to mistakes, particularly at this level, and I know that from my time as a player.

"But as long as you work hard to try to rectify them, which they do, then you can't fault them.

"They've just got to keep that same attitude going forward into next year."

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