Kevin Nicholson (right) during his time with the Bluebirds. Pic: Cardiff City.
Former Cardiff City first team coach Kevin Nicholson is causing a stir in North Wales.
Nicholson is now in charge at Bangor City, his first managerial role, and they opened 2017-18 Welsh Premier League season with a crushing 5-2 win against champions The New Saints last night (Friday).
That convincing win has sent a strong message throughout the top tier of Welsh football.
At the age of 30 Nicholson became the youngest Englishman to earn the Uefa Pro license, regarded as the gold standard in football coaching.
He came to Wales four years ago, taking the role of Cardiff City under-18 manager and later taking charge of the under-23 squad. He was also promoted to the first team coaching group.
Today Nicholson is Bangor’s number one, a rookie manager in charge of building a Welsh Premier challenge for honours.
Brayden Shaw (2), player-assistant manager Gary Taylor Fletcher (2) and Anderson Cayola scored Bangor’s goals, while Connell Rawlinson and Jamie Mullan replied for TNS at Bangor University Stadium.
Saints may be vulnerable following the departure of long-serving manager Craig Harrison to Hartlepool United, but the comprehensive way Bangor dismantled them was impressive.
Taylor-Fletcher, a 36-year-old former Leicester and Huddersfield player, and Dan Nardiello, 34, are key players in the Bangor squad.
Nardiello is a former Wales international who has played club football for Queens Park Rangers, Barnsley and Rotherham.
Henry Jones left Bangor to join AFC Fylde, but Nicholson has signed playmaker Shaw from Accrington Stanley, and added exciting 20-year-old Spanish player Cayola who is from Barcelona and impressed during a trial with Bangor.
“Anderson is an exciting prospect,” said Nicholson.
Taylor-Fletcher has also been impressed by Cayola, saying: “He is a player who is unknown to the league and a great addition to the squad. Technically gifted with great vision and speed, we’re really looking forward to seeing him develop as the season goes on.”
Bangor also signed former Wrexham striker George Harry, 20, and 28-year-old York City defender Danny Holmes.
Nicholson has a burning ambition to succeed in football coaching and management, saying: “My main ambition is to become the best coach I can be.”
Hopes of a professional playing career ended for Nicholson when he was released by Derby County and he quickly turned to coaching.
Nicholson worked at Derby and Exeter before being headhunted by Cardiff during the summer of 2013.
“Nigel Clough was a great influence when I was at Derby and I was there throughout his time at the club,” he says. “From there I moved to Exeter and had a great opportunity to work with Paul Tisdale. He was a big inspiration for me. You’re only going to learn from these people.”
Nicholson’s father, Steve, is a senior journalist at the Derby Evening Telegraph, covering every aspect of the city’s Championship club, and that proved helpful on his Pro Licence course.
“We all had to deliver a final presentation on a study topic of our choice,” he says. “I focused on the first 90 days in management looking at how a manager should approach that time in order to make an impact and get the results that you need.
“You only have to look at the facts regarding how long managers last. That period is crucial and how you approach that can ultimately decide whether you’re successful or not.
“I spoke to several high profile managers when I was doing my study and most of them spoke about the importance of working well with the media.
“It’s a big factor. They can play an important part in getting your message across.”
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