Chelsea U18 assistant coach James Simmonds will spent at least the first half of next season working at AFC Wimbledon, as per the official announcement from the League One club.
Simmonds, a former Chelsea trainee who retired early and went into coaching at a young age, has been in that U18 role for the past two seasons, having previously worked with (most of) the same group of players at U15 and U16 levels. That’s fairly common practice in the Academy, and part of our world class development program of not only players but coaches as well.
Loan moves for coaching staff are far less common, though Chelsea did something very similar with Andy Myers a few years ago, having him spend the 2016-17 season with Vitesse before returning to continue his progression with the Blues — taking up the U23 assistant, U18 head coach, and, for the last two seasons, the U23 Development Squad head coaching roles (assisted by Jon Harley and Eric Ramsay).
Presumably, Simmonds, just 33, can follow a similar plan in the future, after getting some exposure to first-team senior football — an idea not dissimilar to standard player loans.
“When I made a presentation to Chelsea about us loaning their best young professionals I also mentioned the possibility of us bringing in their best young coaches and giving them first-team experience.”
“I was really pleased with how it worked with Justin Cochrane from the England set-up last season. We benefitted from his coaching ideas and general love of the game and I know he benefitted from the experience he gained with us. It will be exactly the same with James, who has been coaching with Chelsea for 10 years. He is a top-quality coach, who has a wonderful enthusiasm about him and will come to us with fresh eyes, which is healthy when you are continually evolving your working environment and building a culture. “
-Mark Robinson, manager; source: AFC Wimbledon
Wimbledon finished in 19th place last season, 4 points above the relegation zone. Simmonds’ arrival could very well be followed by a player or two.
It’s unclear who will take over Simmonds’ assistant coaching role at Chelsea U18, who are currently managed by Ed Brand. Like Myers, Brand has been in the role for the last two seasons, and that often means it’s time for a reshuffle.