Ian Foster: Plymouth Argyle appoint former England Under-20 boss as head coach

 Championship side Plymouth Argyle have named former England Under-20 manager Ian Foster as their new head coach.

The ex-Liverpool academy player, 47, was working as Steven Gerrard’s number two at Al-Ettifaq, in Saudi Arabia.


Foster replaces Steven Schumacher, who left for Stoke last month after getting the Pilgrims promoted in 2022-23.

He led England Under-19s to the European Championship title in 2022 and was assistant to Steve Cooper’s Under-17 World Cup winners in 2017.

“He was the perfect candidate to lead our great football club forward as we embark on our next five-year mission,” Pilgrims chairman Simon Hallett said.

“Ian showed a passion and knowledge for the club throughout the interview process, and showcased in some detail how he sees the best way to take forward our exciting and dynamic young squad.

“Having worked with some of the best players this country has produced, he has a passion for developing young footballers, as well as playing expansive, attacking football which fits perfectly with how we want the club to progress.”

Director of football Neil Dewsnip and assistant coach Kevin Nancekivell, who will remain part of Foster’s coaching team, had overseen first-team affairs during the festive period following Schumacher’s departure on 19 December.

Plymouth, in their first season in the second tier since 2009-10, are 18th in the table and seven points clear of the relegation zone.

A former striker, Foster’s playing career included spells with Hereford, Barrow, Chester and Kidderminster,

His coaching career began in the League of Ireland where he replaced former Southampton and Blackburn defender Jeff Kenna as Galway boss in 2009.

He guided Dundalk to the Europa League in 2010 before returning to England and coaching roles at Coventry and Portsmouth.

In addition to acting as Phil Neville’s assistant in the England women’s set-up, Foster led England Under-20s in the 2023 World Cup, where England suffered a last-16 exit to Italy last May.

He left the Football Association in July to join Gerrard at Al-Ettifaq, who are mid-table in the Saudi Pro League.

‘Well-respected within the game’

Analysis – Brent Pilnick, BBC Sport in Plymouth

Ian Foster is the sort of appointment most of those close to Argyle felt the club would make.

While not a household name he is well known to director of football Neil Dewsnip from their time together with England’s age-group sides, as well as being well-respected within the game.

Success with England at the European Under-19 Championship has seen him coach some of the country’s brightest talents, which will be a boost to a squad with a large chunk of talented young players such as Morgan Whittaker, Bali Mumba and Michael Cooper.

He also has coaching experience at Coventry and Portsmouth, alongside his recent stint in Saudi Arabia, so could bring a fresh perspective to Home Park.

While he has not managed a side in the EFL before, neither had his predecessor Steven Schumacher, and the Argyle hierarchy will hope he can be just as successful as the now Stoke City boss was.

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