Steve Cooper | Mark Allen appointment is "really positive step"

11th January 2021
Steve Cooper

Head coach Steve Cooper believes Mark Allen’s appointment as Swansea City's academy director is a “really positive step" for the club.

The 57-year-old started his new role today, with Allen boasting an impressive CV following spells in English and Scottish football.

Allen spent eight years as director of academy at Manchester City, while he was the man responsible for appointing Steven Gerrard as Rangers boss following a two-year stint as director of football at Ibrox.

He now heads back to Wales, with Allen, who lives in Llanharan, arriving with a glowing reference from Cooper.

The pair were in regular dialogue during Cooper’s successful spell in charge of England Under-17s, where he won the World Cup with a team including Etihad products Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and current Swan Joel Latibeaudiere.

Swansea City academy director Mark Allen

“I think Mark is a very good appointment. I think he brings with him a great wealth of experience of youth development and running an academy,” said Cooper.

“He’s had previous jobs that have been very high-profile, particularly in youth development and being academy director at Manchester City.

“To bring that experience here to Swansea is a really positive thing because with him working at the level that he has, he knows what the top end looks like and what good likes like.

“It has been a very thorough process that Julian has led in making this appointment, and I definitely endorse the decision that he and the club have made.

“I think it’s a really positive step and we’ve done well to get somebody of his stature really.”

Mark Allen Pep Guardiola

Allen’s appointment fills the vacancy left by Nigel Rees’ departure last month.

He joins an academy that has provided the first team with a number of players in the last few years, with the likes of Connor Roberts, Ben Cabango and Liam Cullen in Cooper’s current senior squad. 

Additionally, players such as Joe Rodon, Ben Davies (both Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel James (Manchester United), Oli McBurnie (Sheffield United) and Joe Allen (Stoke City) were all nurtured in the youth ranks before progressing into the first team and moving for considerable fees.

And Cooper is looking forward to working alongside Allen.

Swansea City academy director Mark Allen

“With his appointment, I see good things for the academy going forward in terms of the culture I want to set. We want the academy to be aligned with what we’re doing with the first team and I think it’s a positive step," he added.

“Mark’s a real good leader. As much as he’s a good guy and will be very good with the players and staff, he’s very much a good leader as well and knows what he wants.

“He also knows that what he wants will fit in with what the club wants. He knows that being in line with the first team is a good thing. We’ve got to do our bit as well to make sure we’re aligned with the academy.

“It’s not just about the academy; it’s also about the under-eights, under-nines and the relationships with the parents and staff development. Of course, the end product at the academy is important – selling players and getting players into the first team, that’s always the bit that’s going to be scrutinised.

“But, behind the scenes, setting and maintaining the right culture – whether it be with an under-seven or under-eight, making sure a family have a good experience – it will be as important to him as everything else.

“It’s a really positive appointment and I’m sure he’ll do really well.

“We welcome him with open arms and look forward to working with him.”