Manning helped nurture the likes of Wickham, Dozzell and Downes at Ipswich... now he’s heading for the bright lights of New York City

Liam Manning is a former Ipswich Town youngster, now heading to New York. Picture: WHUFC/ITFC

Liam Manning is a former Ipswich Town youngster, now heading to New York. Picture: WHUFC/ITFC - Credit: Archant

Liam Manning is a former Ipswich Town youth team player and academy coach who is heading for New York City FC via West Ham United. Andy Warren spoke to him ahead of his big move.

Liam Manning assisted Terry Westley in coaching at the West Ham academy. The duo both started out at

Liam Manning assisted Terry Westley in coaching at the West Ham academy. The duo both started out at Ipswich. Picture: PA - Credit: Archant

Just 12 years ago, Liam Manning was spending wet and windy Friday nights coaching primary school children at Ipswich Town’s development centre in Lowestoft. Now he’s heading for the bright lights of New York City.

The former Ipswich youngster, who went on to become a leading academy coach at Playford Road before moving on to West Ham, has been appointed director of coaching at MLS side New York City FC’s academy and will start his new role in the Big Apple at the end of the Premier League 2 season.

Coaching is a vocation that, by his own admission, the 33-year-old stumbled into following his release from Portman Road but it’s one he’s excelled in.

He worked his way up at Ipswich, starting with an Under 13 group which included Connor Wickham before working with the likes of Flynn Downes, Andre Dozzell and Luke Woolfenden as they moved through the system.

Manning is a former Ipswich Town youth player. Picture: WHUFC

Manning is a former Ipswich Town youth player. Picture: WHUFC - Credit: Archant


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He caught the eye of the West Ham management, where he’s worked with the likes of Declan Rice, Reece Oxford and Grady Diangana since 2015, and will now be charged with developing the young talent in New York as they bid to become one of the leading lights in the MLS.

But he wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the support he’s received from his boyhood club, Ipswich.

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“I was saying to my wife the other day just how mad it is to think how much has changed in just 12 years or so,” Manning said.

“If you told me then, on wet and windy nights in Lowestoft, that I would be heading to New York then I wouldn’t have believed you. But it’s really exciting.

Liam Manning is heading for New York City. Picture: WHUFC

Liam Manning, pictured during his time at West Ham United. Picture: WHUFC - Credit: Archant

“Ipswich have to take a lot of credit for everything that I’ve managed to do because they gave me my start and they look after their own.

“You just have to look at the academy now with Kieron (Dyer), Hoggy (Chris Hogg) and Nashy (Gerard Nash) all back coaching there. That’s great for the club.

“Ipswich develop good people and that’s something that’s really important to Bryan (Klug) there and it’s something I’ve taken on as part of everything I’ve done since I left and something which attracted me to this opportunity in New York, too.

“That’s one of the things Claudio Reyna (New York City’s director of football operations) made clear to me when I was speaking to them about this role – that they want to develop good people.

Manning, pictured in action for Leiston against Felixstore.
Picture Owen Hines

Manning, pictured in action for Leiston against Felixstore. Picture Owen Hines

“I can’t wait to get started.”

Manning will be joining one of the biggest operations in world football, given New York City are part of the City Group.

The group have stakes in seven clubs, led by Premier League champions Manchester City and also including sides in Spain (Girona), Australia (Melbourne City) and Japan (Yokohama F.Marinos)

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Manning said.

Manning had a spell in charge of
Melton St Audrey. Picture: ARCHANT

Manning had a spell in charge of Melton St Audrey. Picture: ARCHANT

“Obviously the City Group is spread all around the world in seven clubs and, while there’s an element of sharing knowledge they are very keen to make sure all of the clubs retain their own individual identities.

“The MLS has grown hugely in recent years and it’s not just a league where they try to bring in players in their late 30s to see out their careers anymore.

“They are trying to recruit players in their prime and bring through youngsters as well, which is obviously a big part of what I’m going to be doing.”

Manning is preparing to move his life 3,500 across the Atlantic but he will still be keeping a firm eye on events at Portman Road, not least because so many of his former players will be part of the club’s bid to win promotion from League One at the first time of asking.

Celebrations at Ellan Road: Ipswich Youth players (from left) Liam Craig, Aidan Collins (scorer of f

Celebrations at Ellan Road: Ipswich Youth players (from left) Liam Craig, Aidan Collins (scorer of first goal), Darryl Knights (scorer of winning goal) and Town substitute Liam Manning EADT 5 12 03

“Watching young players progress and break through is the kind of thing that keeps you going in this job,” he said.

“It’s long, unsociable hours at times and you’re not paid huge amounts, but you do it for the moments where you see young players break through.

“It’s been great watching those young Ipswich players. I still follow them and I went to Northern Ireland to watch Andre Dozzell’s England debut.

“They have a great opportunity to play and that’s big for them. They are good players who have played at international level so there’s clearly a lot of ability there. They will be well supported, too.

Ipswich Town Youth FA Cup squad training at Portman Road.
BACK ROW FROM LEFT, Victor Hill, Scott

Ipswich Town Youth FA Cup squad training at Portman Road. BACK ROW FROM LEFT, Victor Hill, Scott Mitchell, Scott Barron, Antonio Murray, Gerard Nash, Scott Peat, Stuart Boardley, Chris Hogg, Sam Morrow, Shane Supple, and Aidan Collins. FRONT ROW, Erkan Okay, Dean Bowditch, Craig Reid, Liam Manning, Henry Sobolewski, Daniel Flack, Matt Richards, Adam Atay, Gerrard O'Connor Photograph :keith mindham EADT 20.11.02 GREENUN 05 04 03 ADERN ATAY ONLY

“You look at Southampton when they went down, they gave young players (including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana) and look how well they did.

“I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on how they’re getting on.”

MANNING’S CAREER PATH

– Manning was with Ipswich Town between the ages of 13-19 before being released at the end of the 2004/05 season without making a first-team appearance.

Manning worked with the likes of Flynn Downes during his time at Ipswich. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Manning worked with the likes of Flynn Downes during his time at Ipswich. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

– Following his release he spent 10 months in Iceland, playing for Selfoss, where his passion for coaching developed.

– Despite having the option to stay in Iceland for another season, Manning returned to Suffolk and played for Leiston under the management of former Ipswich Town player Jason Dozzell.

– Former Ipswich academy chief Tony Humes brought Manning back to the club during this period, working as a part-time coach alongside new general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill.

– His first group was the Under 13s – a squad including current Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham.

Connor Wickham was one of the first young players Manning worked with at Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

Connor Wickham was one of the first young players Manning worked with at Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

– Alongside his work at Ipswich, Manning had a brief stint as manager of SIL side Melton St Audry’s and also worked at Combs Middle School alongside O’Neill.

– Manning eventually became the Blues’ Under 16s coach, working with the likes Andre Dozzell, Luke Woolfenden, Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam.

– West Ham, after tracking him for some time, recruited Manning to be their assistant academy manager in December 2015. He went on to manage the club’s Under 23 team.

– Following an approach, Manning has become director of coaching at New York City FC.

Manning is going to work with New York City's young players. Picture: WHUFC

Manning is going to work with New York City's young players. Picture: WHUFC - Credit: Archant

New York City play at the famous Yankee Stadium in The Bronx. Picture: PA

New York City play at the famous Yankee Stadium in The Bronx. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Manning worked with Declan Rice at West Ham. Picture: PA

Manning worked with Declan Rice at West Ham. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Bryan Klug ITFC Academy director, back right, with sponsors, from left, Roger Simons, Colin and Mark

Bryan Klug ITFC Academy director, back right, with sponsors, from left, Roger Simons, Colin and Mark Calver and players, from left, Gerard Nash, Liam Manning, Blair Hammond and Scott Mitchell. Photograph: KEITH MINDHAM EADT 31 10 03

Manning is a former Ipswich Town academy youngster. Picture: ITFC

Manning is a former Ipswich Town academy youngster. Picture: ITFC - Credit: Action Images

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