Darren Ryan says it is a “great honour” to be handed the responsibility of coaching Wolves Academy Under-18s – as he targets playing a continued part in helping the club’s up-and-coming talent progress from the youth ranks to the first team.
After a successful temporary stint in charge of the Under-18s in the final months of last season, Darren came through a competitive recruitment process to successfully land the role on a permanent basis, which was announced on Monday.
He is now firmly focused on carrying on the momentum from the final months of last season and helping prepare players to move up to the Under-23 ranks, and ultimately the first team.
"I'm delighted to have been appointed as the Under-18s coach,” says Darren.
“I've enjoyed the role for the last three months and I've always said that the lads were fantastic on and off the pitch.
‘”On a personal note I am really looking forward to the challenge.
“I’ve got great support from the staff, not just the Under-18s staff but also the whole football club where everyone works together.
“There is a pathway here for players and there’s a pathway here for coaches as well.
“I've come right through the system and it is going to be a great honour for me to carry out the role of Under-18s coach for Wolverhampton Wanderers.”
Darren has indeed come through the system having been on the Academy coaching staff at Wolves for almost six years.
That has meant he has seen many of the young talents emerge and progress through to first team honours, including Morgan Gibbs-White, who made his debut in the FA Cup win at Stoke City last season.
“I started part time and then got a full time leading the youth development phase, and that was up until maybe 15 or 16 months ago,” says Darren.
“I then went up to the Under-23s to work with Scott (Sellars) and Seyi Olofinjana, and during that time I have learned so much from them, not just on the football side but leadership skills as well.
“I have been taken out of my comfort zone – Scott does that to you – and helps you pick up the skills and experiences, along with everything I have picked up from Gareth (Prosser) as well.
“I want to be my own man in how I lead the team but learning off good people and good coaches is vital and that knowledge I have picked up has been fantastic.
“We’re really consistent right through the Academy which the coaching and the approach.
“Last year I was taking the younger age groups which really helps and I will do the same this year, working one night a work with some of the schoolboy players.
“There is a pathway at this football club and whatever age you are you can see it in front of you.
“Players will get pushed up to the Under-16s, the Under-18s, the Under-23s and then the first team.
“Take Morgan for example, making his debut at Stoke at the age of just 16.
“That was a proud moment for all of us and I was at Stoke seeing a player I had worked with at Under-12 level going out there on the big stage.
“It has happened with other players as well – Connor Ronan, Bright Enobakhare, Harry Burgoyne – and it is great to see.
“We have got players in the system now who I’m sure will go onto play in the first team.
“For me it is about taking them on when they come to me at Under-18 level, improving them, and making sure they are ready to go up to Scott with the Under-23s.
“That is where we all work together really well and really consistently throughout the Academy.”
The players returned for training on Monday and have a full schedule planned for pre-season.
This includes a pre-season training camp in Holland where there are fixtures against Go Ahead Eagles (July 15th) and PEC Zwolle (July 18th), followed by a fixture at Lilleshall against Shrewsbury Town (July 22nd).
Walsall are the visitors on July 25th, Coventry on July 29th, before a trip to Crewe on August 1st and a home game with Cardeiff on August 5th.
The new season kicks off on August 12th.