Stevie’s a Model pro: Grieve gets in the game with fellow coaches
TV PUNDIT in India, coach in Canada, Premiership top team analyst in Scotland, Game Model builder for colleagues all over the world.
Sport Careers Agency client Stevie Grieve's decision to immerse himself in the Beautiful Game has led to a journey he could never have imagined at the outset.
Stevie is back in his homeland now as Head of Analysis and Opposition Scouting at Dundee United.
The designer of popular online football education platform Tactical Teacher, though, has found time for another creative outlet crafting Game Models for coaches and clubs around the globe.
These key documents allow the owner to frame the identity of how they want to play the game to all of those invested in their vision.
The concept of collaborating on moulding them is proving hugely popular and Stevie revealed: "I have been working on Game Models for a time but not publicly, just to help out fellow coaches.
"Then the pandemic really took a grip on the football world and so many coaches were stuck in lockdowns with more time on their hands than they generally have.
"Just after New Year Dave Rogers, who had played in Scotland with Dundee, got in touch with me from Arizona FC in the States.
"Dave is now the Technical Director and Head Coach there and he wanted a really specific document.
"We worked together with videos and diagrams and produced a resource that he can use when he sits down with new coaches or players.
"He can now show them how he envisages Arizona FC playing on the pitch and what he wants it to look like. He wanted clarity from Day One.
"That helped me to figure out what the template should look like and from there it has just snowballed.
"People give me their idea and then I bring it to life, we put the tactical theory and the video to the thoughts of the club and go from there."
Modern-day players who live or their phones or tablets often learn differently from many of the coaches teaching them.
Part of the process can be an education for the coach in how to best get their message across.
For Stevie one of the answers can lie in a bank of video content he has built up watching a myriad of teams from a host of top leagues.
He reasoned: "Game models now need to be easily understood by a visual learner so we can show a footballer or a coach them and they get it right away.
"I feel that video is a very powerful tool in that respect. Kids now can work an iPad in 30 seconds, that's how they learn.
"I like helping people. I have done personality tests and I found out that one of my higher level motivators is helping other people.
"Someone will come to me with a Game Model, my job is to take their ideas and clarify it.
"I have a bank of video content now that can just about show you every scenario you can think of. If I don't have it then I know where to find it.
"I may have seen Sassuolo do it in a random Serie A game against Sampdoria because I watch all of those games."
Like many Sport Careers Agency clients, one of the key aspects of UEFA A Licence holder Stevie's development as a coach and football professional has been travel.
The Scotsman, who grew up dreaming of being St Johnstone manager one day, took the leap of faith to move to India where he was head of the Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools and Technical Director of Garhwal FC.
He fashioned another strand of his career as a TV pundit there and hosted his own show The Mind Game which looked more deeply into the analysis of the game than traditional programmes.
Stevie wouldn't swap that time of his life for anything and he said: "India was one of the most formative aspects of my coaching journey.
"My wife was there for the first six months and then she came home to Scotland to plan our wedding.
"I had 18 months where I could have sat and moaned about being lonely or I could fill my time doing other things.
"I chose to really study in-depth on evidence-based coaching, I learned to use data properly.
"For instance, crossing the ball leads to a THREE PER CENT conversion rate. So put in 100 crosses and you might score three. Put in 35 crosses and you might score one.
"It is an inefficient way to score goals.
"So once you learn that you think about the structure and playing style of a team."
Stevie took up the challenge of coaching youth football in Canada and left a lasting mark with his players at Burlington Bayhawks with the dedication he showed.
Teaching what is a developing sport in the suburbs of Toronto was given the same detailed approach he applies to Game Models now.
And he smiled: "When I was in coaching in Canada if I could get a chance to watch our opponents on YouTube or Vimeo then I would always do that.
"It helps you figure out how to play against them and I can remember games there where I would be able to find tips on how to win simply by picking up which players to press by watching their YouTube videos."
The lure of home was strong with fallen giants Dundee United making their way back from the Championship in Scotland and embracing a modern approach in their quest for promotion.
Stevie helped former coach Robbie Neilson achieve that goal before he departed for Hearts and is now a part of the Micky Mellon regime that has taken the club to Premiership safety in their first season back in the top flight.
So how has he adapted to the switch from coach to analyst?
He reflected: "When I joined here it was Robbie Neilson who was in charge and he was very analytical. He knew what he wanted and was open to ideas to control the play.
"We would look at three or four aspects of the next opponent we would face next and I would come back with what I thought a game plan could be.
"Then we would work together as a staff to be clear on the idea before we decided on the training sessions and meetings off the back of having an idea for the game for the working week ahead.
"It's your job to help the Head Coach in that way. My first league game was against Inverness Caley and I brought up a plan of how to play against them in transition because their midfielders go man to man then.
"We devised a strategy to play Nicky Clark off the left in a 4-4-2. In possession could he be a no10 and play behind their midfield man-marker, which gets Nicky into his main position.
"That way we would always have a pass through the lines in organised play and we would always have a pass through the lines in transition which created a 4v4 to goal.
"When we played those things were evident and helped us win the game.
"So now my job is to try and come up with information packs to try and help the manager come up with ways to approach the games.
"Now that I am not coaching, I spend more time focusing on the diagrams and videos that help us prepare for each game and hopefully lead to a positive outcome.
"I have developed a lot of different skill-sets in this job, I've become more rounded, able to work under pressure quickly, and it has been terrific for my development."
Ahead of the last game before the Top Six split in Scotland United lie eighth in the table and safe from any threat of the drop.
The mission to cement themselves again as a Premiership club has taken an important first step and Stevie is relishing being part of it in an ever-evolving role.
He stressed: "I have also been involved in the last year in recruitment which has been fascinating.
"If you look at a modern manager he may have six games a month so does he really have time to properly look at signing targets? The answer has to be no because he is focused on preparing the team for the week and winning games.
"If you are an opposition or first-team analyst you see so many players and sometimes if you are looking at a recruitment angle it may be advising who NOT to sign.
"Your club might be really keen on a player but you know from watching him and analytics that he is not a clever player.
"Sometimes your job is simply to say they are not a good fit and that can be just as valuable as recommending players because clubs can't afford to waste money."
One thing Stevie Grieve never wastes is time spent studying the game he loves.
That has been the fuel for an intriguing football journey that shows no sign of losing momentum.
STEVIE GRIEVE ON THE SERVICE HE RECEIVED FROM SPORT CAREERS
"I did my UEFA A Licence with Sport Careers Agency Managing Director Piero Carrino and I got my CV done when I was planning my career moves.
"When I was in India I was offered a few assistant and head coach roles in Asia and there's no question having the CV helped in that respect.
"The way I look at it Sport Careers Agency get you into the discussion for winning a role and then it is up to you to get the job.
"Your CV will help you stand out from the crowd. Look like a professional not like a 10-year-old has written it on Microsoft Word.
"Make it look like you are a pro, it's about presentation and Sport Careers Agency put you into the conversations that matter."
By Iain King