The fourth and final part of our chat with Robert Earnshaw begins with a question from Daniel Gabbidon and goes on to cover coaching, social media and what the future has in store.
Has the role of the modern day striker become less about scoring goals and more about becoming multifaceted as a player? Are natural goal-scorers a dying breed?
Just scoring goals, for sure. You now have to do more and strikers now have far more responsibility. Applying more pressure and doing more defensive work. Whether it was 100 years ago or in 100 years time though, the hardest thing to do on the pitch will always be to score goals. That will always be the case and it’s a high-level skill.
Your social media posts are often philosophical. Has that always been of interest to you?
People know you as a footballer, but I don’t see myself that way. I have interests in so many different things. The reason I played football is because I was inspired by people in the game that think a little differently. When I put certain things out there, it’s to make people pause and think about it because I feel there is some truth in it, or maybe it’s just interesting.
I’ve been described as philosophical at times and I think I’ve always thought a little bit differently. I grew up inspired by those sorts of people. I don’t want to just talk about football because I have opinions on lots of things. I don’t need to be the same as everyone else.
You appear to be something of an original thinker. Where a lot footballers come across as a little bit bland, you seem to be a little bit eccentric. Do you think that’s a fair observation, and if so, does that also guide your coaching?
Yes, 100%. You are the total sum of your experiences and knowledge. I’ll sometimes think about things in a different way and also look at the alternatives. I’ve always had an interest in people doing things a little bit differently because I’m open to different ways of doing things. I’m a free thinker. I might see things in a completely different way and maybe we’re both right, but that’s OK.
I don’t think I could have been a footballer and played at the highest level if I didn’t think that way. When I came through, everyone was big and physical, so I had to think of different ways to make an impact by going against traditional thinking. I’ll take 50 kicks if it means I score one goal because the one goal is bigger than the 50 kicks. Going in to coaching, it has helped me a lot because my experience, good and bad, has taught me what is effective.
I’ve followed your career from afar and you’ve done so well, but I was wondering why you decided to come back to the UK? Also, do you still play Championship Manager?!
My plan was to only do two years at my last club. I left at the end of my contract because I didn’t want to sign another one and I was always going to be moving on after that period. I left there before Christmas, but now I’m looking for a new project and to be honest, I don’t know where that will be. I’m back indefinitely, but that depends on opportunities. One of the biggest reasons I’m here is because I’ve started studying for my pro licence with the Welsh FA.
I now refuse to play Championship Manager! I used to love playing it. When I was like 19, that was an addictive game. I would lose a night’s sleep to it! Sometimes you would be playing until five in the morning and by then you might as well stay up. I used to play it a lot and enjoyed it, but I refuse to now.
Were you in the running for the Under-23 job before Steve Morison recently took over?
I would rather not say. No comment! I was driving back to Wales, having just got back from the US and I posted a picture coming across the Severn Bridge. All of a sudden, there was all this talk of taking over the post at Cardiff. It was coincidental. Like I said, my next step is taking my pro licence and then we’ll take it from there.
How have you found the transition in to coaching and are you looking to coach in the UK?
I love coaching. Nothing is as good as playing, but its probably as close as you can get. Coaching is like a different side of football that you never quite understand as a player. It’s made me dive deeper in to football and your responsibility now includes the players, staff, planning and you have to do all the work behind the scenes. You learn a lot about yourself and you learn about your players.
One thing I will say is that the experience of being a player is gold. It definitely helps and I use it as the anchor to my coaching. I can give a player confidence because at any given moment, I can understand how difficult it is and give him information that works.
My goal is to be the best version of myself that I can be, being the best coach that I can be and producing my best work. That’s the only goal right now. Where that takes me, I don’t mind. What drives me is to work in a smart and excellent way.
Over the last four years, I’ve been coaching forwards in MLS with Vancouver and an assistant manager in the second division with Fresno. I’ve gained some good experience and got people I can bounce ideas off. All I can say is I’m open and you never know. I never knew I would get to play in the US, Canada and Israel, where I would meet people that would adjust my way of thinking.
Would you ever fancy managing or coaching Cardiff?
You don’t know what will happen in the future, but what I do know is that I will continue to learn. Even just this week, I’ve learned a lot. In terms of coaching or managing, it just depends on the opportunities in the future. What I will do is make myself better every day, week and month. That’s what I’m trying to do. I have no real direction with that and we’ll see. I just want to learn and be better.