Frank Lampard, Eddie Howe, and Chris Wilder are just a few of the high-profile names that feature in the betting to become the next England U21 manager, should Aidy Boothroyd’s contract not be renewed this summer.
*It's since been revealed that Boothroyd will leave*
There’s no doubt that each of the aforementioned former Premier League managers would each make for a cracking appointment, however you get the feeling that they will all be eyeing a return to club football.
Given that the last two England U21 appointments have been from within the national set-up - Gareth Southgate spent 18-months working at the FA as head of elite development, while Boothroyd was in charge of the U20s - there’s an expectation that those in power could adopt the same approach this summer if they opt not to continue with Boothroyd.
It’s proving to be an exciting market jam-packed with talented young coaches, one of whom is 39-year-old Justin Cochrane who has just been installed as the new favourite.
Below we profile the man who is currently in charge of England U17s...
Sent-off minutes into his playing debut
Just minutes after coming on as a substitute, midfielder Cochrane was sent-off on his QPR debut back in 2001. “I swear to this day I got the ball, he dived and rolled around," he previously told The Railwaymen Podcast. "I cried when I got home!”
He would go on to play for the likes of Crewe, Rotherham, Yeovil, in the non-league pyramid, and internationally for Antigua and Barbuda - his father is Antiguan, while his mother is from Saint Lucia.
Justin Cochrane with Scott Parker when the duo coached at Tottenham
Coaching at Spurs
As a 17-year-old rookie at QPR, Cochrane’s passion for coaching shone through as he helped set-up his own grassroots U10s team in Edmonton (London).
“We started that team from scratch after putting an advert in the local paper for people who wanted to join,” he told the FA. “It was a mixed team in terms of ability, but they stayed together for four or five years after that. It was a really good time and it gave me my first grounding in coaching young players and I just retained an interest from there.”
While still playing in the National League, he began coaching at Tottenham where he’d go on to spend nine years working in the academy at various age groups up to the U23s. He also achieved a 2.1 in Leadership and Management from The Open University.
During his time at Spurs, Cochrane coached the likes of Ryan Sessegnon, Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp, while he worked with Scott Parker, Chris Ramsey and John McDermott - the latter was recently appointed as the new technical director at the FA, and will be tasked with finding an England U21s manager should Boothroyd leave.
Life in the England coaching set-up
In 2018, Cochrane was announced as the new head coach of the England U15s. He stepped up to the U16s the following year, then in September he moved up again to the U17s; a role he does in conjunction with Youth Development Phase leader (U15/U16/U17).
He’s since overseen three games: a 3-1 win against Derby U18s, a 4-2 defeat to Reading U23s, and a 2-1 victory over Watford U23s.
What’s his philosophy?
“As a coach, I’m very passionate and enthusiastic and I like to build good relationships with the players so that they want to listen, learn and understand,” Cochrane told the FA.
“I'd like to play an attacking style of football and give the players freedom to make their own decisions. As a coach, you have to be flexible and adapt to the type of players that you work with.”
This will be music to the ears of England fans, who watched the U21s stutter and stall at the recent European Championships, in which they exited in the group stages for the second successive tournament.
The squad was jam-packed with talent yet only two goals were scored, with their goal-shy approach and limpness in attack widely criticised.
It’s something Cochrane would instantly look to change, should he be elevated into the U21s hot-seat. “I have a passion for helping young people fulfil their potential and I enjoy taking on the challenges that life brings,” Cochrane states on his LinkedIn profile.
Gareth Southgate’s a fan
Cochrane’s coaching credentials have been recognised by former England U21s boss Gareth Southgate - at the helm for three years - who said of Cochrane last year: “We have some very good young black coaches coming through our development teams. Justine Cochrane is somebody who I think, within our group of national coaches, he is going to be a top coach.”
Scroll down for the full England U21s next manager market...