BBC BLOGS - Jonathan Overend
« Previous | Main | Next »

What now for coach-less Murray?

Post categories:

Jonathan Overend | 10:14 UK time, Wednesday, 28 July 2010

While the relationship between Andy Murray and Miles Maclagan was undoubtedly successful for both player and coach, both will probably be relieved it's over.

Their split was announced on Tuesday night in a brief statement from Murray's management company which suggested the partnership had simply run its course.

"I've had a great relationship with Miles over the past two-and-a-half years and I want to thank him for his positive contribution" said Murray.

Maclagan said: "It's been a privilege to work with Andy as his coach and I'm happy to have played my part in his career."

All very amicable then. You have the CDs, I'll keep the sofas.

Miles Maclagan and Alex CorretjaThe role of Alex Corretja (right) is believed to have played a part in Maclagan's (left) departure

But a there is slightly more to this break-up than meets the eye. The balance of power within the Murray camp, not always obvious, is believed to be central - specifically the role of Alex Corretja, the Spaniard who has worked part-time as a coaching consultant since the 2008 clay-court season.

Maclagan had flown to the United States to be at Murray's side in preparation for the US Open and all appeared rosy. He had every intention of continuing in the job and Murray, despite speculation, had no dark plan to sack him.

But with former world number two Corretja also at the training camp in Miami, the situation quickly changed. On his arrival at the weekend, Maclagan is believed to have sought clarity on the coaching situation.

Murray seemingly decided to resolve matters there and then.

After just a couple of days, and with his bags packed for a month, Maclagan was on the next available plane home with Murray taking a last-minute wild-card entry into the Los Angeles tournament. A total change of plan.

Corretja, I am told, has been retained on his part-time contract of around 12 weeks a year, although confusingly he has also flown home, leaving Murray coachless ahead of the US Open.

Murray now has the opportunity to scour the market and bring in a Grand-Slam winning coach if he wants to, can find one and can afford one.

Maclagan, relatively speaking, represented extremely good value for money and a top-name coach will cost considerably more, particularly considering the consultancy and media fees most of the high-profile guys command.

Darren CahillAustralian coach Darren Cahill is a potential candidate to replace Maclagan

Larry Stefanki, who turned the job down in 2006 before Brad Gilbert was hired, now works with Andy Roddick. Paul Annacone, leaving the LTA at the end of the year, is about to start a fascinating trial period with Roger Federer.

Darren Cahill - Andre Agassi's former coach - is employed by Murray's new kit sponsor and some form of link there is one of the more obvious possibilities. Cahill's easy-going demeanour appeals to Murray. A chatterbox is not required for this vacancy.

Of course there are many leftfield options, including plenty of former champions always keen to keep themselves in the public eye and, while a British contender appears unlikely, it's worth noting that Murray recently trumpeted the attributes of a little-known coach from Scotland, Iain Hughes, when the Davis Cup captaincy was available.

Whatever the circumstances, Maclagan should leave the job with his head held high. He helped Murray to two Grand Slam finals, 11 titles including four Masters Series shields, and a peak of number two in the world.

His calming personality played a part in helping Murray mature on and off the court; as a practice partner he was as effective as they come and he soaked up Murray's occasional rants with admirable stoicism.

The extent of his influence was always unclear - indeed at times he appeared little more than a glorified hitting partner. The fact he was never allowed to give interviews told its own story. He was never the boss, just an employee in "Team Murray". No wonder he sought clarity.

But that is the curiosity of the player/coach axis in tennis. The player pays the bills. The player hires and fires. That's life on tour.

Maclagan was in a dream job, yet in many ways it was an impossible one.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks Jonathan, good analysis on both sides of the frankly bizarre situation that was Murray's coaching approach up until now. I don't think I'm alone in having wondered in the past who exactly Murray's coach is. It certainly seemed that Miles was at times more like a hitting partner than anything else.

    I think that coaching is like almost everything else -- you get what you pay for. And yes, a coach of Darren Cahill's caliber will not be as cheap as Miles was but let's face it, if the world no.4 can't afford him, who can? Also, it would remove the ambiguity of who Murray's coach is and what he's there for. Frankly, nobody is going to mistake Cahill for anyone's hitting partner, not on the salary he'd be able to command.

    Overall then, a good move for both parties.

  • Comment number 2.

    Come on Tim!

  • Comment number 3.

    That relationship with Maclagan has been a really big puzzle from the start.He was a nobody as a professional, had no track record as a coach and was quite unknown otherwise. So what did Murray get out of him, you wonder.

    Certainly the ridiculously long 'recovery rest' after the Australian Open and then the abysmal record of early exits raised many questions about what the coaching team was not doing right.

    Wimbledon did little to convince watchers otherwise. Murray has many points to defend in the next 5 weeks. Unless he improves, he may drop 2-3 places with so many just a few hundred points behind him. He's just fortunate that they are underperforming just now.

  • Comment number 4.

    I really can't see Murray going for a big name. After all, last time he chose a "coach" he went from Brad Gilbert to Miles Maclagan. This is a man who likes to be in charge, and his results after making this change fully justified the decision. Certainly he needs someone around with enough gravitas to be taken seriously by the player, in a way that Maclagan never seemed to be. Someone to help him improve his tactics when behind, to avoid the negative funks that he sometimes gets into. But give him a big name coach trying to make him play to a new game plan and sparks will be flying within the month.

  • Comment number 5.

    For those who watch small businesses grow, it has long been apparent that there are certain types who are best suited to certain stages of the growth period.

    There are those who spot the opportunity and get sales going.

    There are those who come in to put in the necessary processes to allow growth to continue beyond the 'organised chaos' found in so many young companies.

    And there are those who take a business global.

    There are a few who are good at it all, whereas many are happy repeatedly finding a nice prospect in their niche, doing a good job and then getting out when the job is done.

    If people are wise, they will see McLagan as the guy who helped Murray establish himself in the Top 5 in the World and reach a plateau capable of competing with Nadal and Federer on equal terms. What he hasn't done is to help Murray win a slam.

    Seems to me that that's a job well done and one which might be noted by those looking to progress from lower rankings in the future........

  • Comment number 6.

    Good observations there Mr. Overend.

    Errr...ok rjaggar, so erm, which category "of growing a small business" does Maclagan belong? Suffice to say your last two paragraphs would have been adequate a point to make!

  • Comment number 7.

    Probably also worth pointing out that two and a half years is a very long time by today's standard for tennis coaches, but I guess this had to be on cards as Murray has still not yet cracked the Slam conundrum.

    The question surely is if he hires a coach with experience working with Slam winners, or goes with another relatively unproven bloke. And if he's angling toward the former, any chance Peter Lundgren could come into the frame?

  • Comment number 8.

    Various sources claim that Miles Maclagan was sacked. Why?

    And why is it too much trouble for these sources (including 5Live today) to acknowledge what Andy Murray achieved with Maclagan as his coach?

    Well done to Jonathan Overend for putting the record straight.

  • Comment number 9.

    What about John Lloyd?

  • Comment number 10.

    Sounds like the time had come. Strange time to do it with so many points to defend prior to the US and a lot of ground to make up from missing the Asian swing last year.

    Murray could use someone with a good knowledge of the attacking game. It'd be nice to see Murray build more points rather than relying on his ability to generate winners out of awkward situations and wait for errors - something he's too often guilty of.

  • Comment number 11.

    One of the reasons for bringing in Alex Corretja is that despite AM's success at Masters level, the desired slam kept evading him.

    Unfotunately, Corretja's presence created friction in Maclagan's mind. Maclagan's personality did not lead him to oppose Murray, but go along with the situation. Finally, Corretja being in attendance in Miami was the last straw in Maclagan's mindset. He then confronted Murray requesting confirmation as to whom is number 1 coach. Hence Tuesday's result.

    Andy needs a positive coach. But it will be difficult to find an appropriate one, who will have to accept Murray as the boss. Very few of the world-class coaches would be comfortable with such scenario. In addition, these men come vey expensive and Murray might back off from the cost. Perhaps Addidas could pick up part of the charges as LTA did with Brad Gibert.

    I do believe that Andy was correct to part company with Mile Maclagan. It's just that the timing was poor.

  • Comment number 12.

    I meant to add, I don't think it is a matter of whether he can afford someone like a Cahill... he can, and I think he will if he believes the hire will lead to a Slam victory.

  • Comment number 13.

    What happens next?

    My prediction is that Andy Murray will go through more and more coaches to look for that 'winning formula'. Perhaps by the time he hits his mid thirties he will realise what a lot of us know and most of us suspect, that he is simply not good enough to win Grand Slam events.

    The Scottish Tim Henman!

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't see why cost should be an issue for the number 4 in the world who also as numerous lucrative endorsements to supplement his income (how much would someone like cahill cost?).

    I feel that someone with a proven track record is the way to go someone who could shake up his system and disband the team Murray approach. Murray is not far from the grand slam victory and a top coach would probably speed up the process.

  • Comment number 15.

    Yes i would love to see John Lloyd as his coach that would be fantastic.

  • Comment number 16.

    Everyone is just assuming Cahill will be appointed coach, but it is surely not that simple. Cahill has extensive commentary commitments with ESPN and a long list of players that he is working with. It has recently been announced that he is going to be doing a lot of work with Gonzalez and he turned down Federer as he didn't have enough time to work with him as much as Roger thought would be necessary.

    If Murray takes on Cahill it will have to be at a very part-time level. Is that sufficient? Would it really suit either of them??

  • Comment number 17.

    JamTay u are so right .. and i'm sure Murray being a canny Scot will not want to spend big dollars on a big name coach .. after all how could he afford it on his meagre income :) poor lad, i should be so lucky !

  • Comment number 18.

    Everybody is talking how expensive are some of Murray's potential coaches and how Murray is a canny Scot. Any idea how much was Maclagan paid and how much would Cahill ask?

  • Comment number 19.

    I think the big question would be would Darren Cahill want to work with Murray? I think if Murray is to be serious in looking for Darren Cahill to work with him he has to embrace new ideas and tactics to improve his game. I do question how much input Miles Maclagan had and how much he was given to work with because after Andy reached the 2008 US Open Final, he didn't really kick on in the Slams in 2009. He did however win a few Masters Titles in 2009, but I thought that after the the US Open in 2009 he would have parted company with Maclagan. I think a coach of Darren Cahill's calibere will not tolerate a bit part role or invlovement. Andy needs to be wise in his next coach selection and concede some degree of control.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think a couple of hundred thousand pounds to keep quiet about the split will soothe the pain of his sacking. You can't help wonder if Miles did have Andy's respect, i mean, is Andy really going to take advice from Miles on where he's going wrong. Just one of life's decisions I suppose, anyway good luck to him at his favourite major.

  • Comment number 21.

    Always going to happen with Alex popping up more. Alex should have gone simples, he was only there for the clay season. Alex should go now as well and let cahill have a go

  • Comment number 22.

    Great blog Jonathan, probably one of your best , concise, straight to the point and you didnt regurgitate any old info or pander to anyones ego. Just one thing though about a year ago I came on here and got moderated for a reason I still cant understand, and pointed out that if you look back over Murrays short career you will see a pattern of coaches leaving after 18 months / 2 years. The long and short of it is thats all they can put up with him for. Its Andys way or the highway. Just look at his comments on Miles's departure, "theres nothing wrong with my game" !!!! Surely thats the coaches decision, Cahill would be a great choice he did wonders for Agassi but Andre knew how to work ,and listen, and learn. These are qualities that Mr Murray is yet to prove he possesses.

  • Comment number 23.

    Murray' s problem is his mind. Does not think in his feet as he should have against Federer and Nadal.
    Peaked at no 2? Technically correct, but what was it that allowed him to be no2 for 3/4 weeks?

  • Comment number 24.

    Voice did you read this. Andy did not sack him. So therefore the change in coach is enforced and there is nothing in his game that is wrong that Murray needs a new coach to change. He needs to get more consistent and have something which can change a match against Rafa Federer etc like he did against Cilic

  • Comment number 25.

    I think Murray should look for proven Grand Slam winning coach, he's got the money and the talent to win Grand Slams he just needs a winning coach to help him progress further.

    Winning Slams is all about having the combination of mental and physical prowess fully honed.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think Murray is faced with 2 choices really:

    1, Do as he has done.

    Get a good but “cheap” coach. Miles and his like, are clearly excellent and great value for money. But if the reasons for choosing is solely money, then surely that is somewhat myopic when looking at the wider picture of what he needs to achieve. If it is because he can “dominate them”, then that is the wrong criterion.

    2, Get more “established”.

    The problem with this is that Murray does appear to do his own thing and wish to dictate, case in point, Brad Gilbert. Brad has seen and helped the best around. Thus if someone like Brad cannot guide Murray, then perhaps Murray is destined to stay “second best”.

    A coach like Brad et al, they don’t work in your comfort zones, they push beyond and train the mental side as much as the talent/attribute side. Once a player is in the top 10 or even 5, their game is clearly good enough to win. It comes down to consistency and mental strength. The consistency is built upon the mental strength of believing. Some have this naturally, (often called arrogance) some require this to be drummed into them, despite their own thoughts on the matter.

    So, this aspect is way beyond Murray’s ability, the mental arrogance to win and believe. His playing ability is excellent no one can question that, only his attitude. This attitude would come from the right coach. Said coach may not agree with Murray on many levels, but surely that is the point. Since if Murray knew what/where and how, he would have beaten Federer as others have done recently.

    Tennis is more a mental game at the top levels ,that is the area he needs to focus on with the right coach to drag him kicking and screaming away from his current “comfort zone”….since Miles, for all his excellent coaching, was never seen by Murray as his superior. Without that, Murray shall never win a Grand Slam sadly.

  • Comment number 27.

    All the hard work regarding fitness, discipline, etc in Andy's training regime was done by Brad Gilbert. OK, Andy didn't get along with Brad after a while, and that's fine - but I feel that post-Gilbert Andy surrounded himself with a bunch of yes-men, who don't have the knowledge to mentally get Andy to be able to win a grand slam final. I'm heartened to hear that Miles has gone, and have said for a long time that Andy needs a Cahill, or Stefanki, or Magnus Norman (now working with Soderling), who would not have personality clashes with Andy - but first and foremost Andy has to recognise that these guys know more about tennis, and winning GS finals, than he does, and he must listen to them, and not just ignore what he dosen't want to hear. Andy does have the game to be able to win a GS, but he must stop his on-court tantrums, showing negative body language to his opponent when things aren't going right. Here's hoping that sufficient changes will be made......

  • Comment number 28.

    At the end of the day, you cannot make a silk purse out of a pig's ear.

  • Comment number 29.

    This talk of John Lloyd - are you crazy? What has he ever achieved in the game?

    Even as Davis Cup captain he managed to have Britain under-perform (even by our relatively poor standards) to drop to the minor leagues. As a player he was a nobody, adding up to a career that would have passed without notice in any country with a reasonably strong set of tennis pros.

    In Britain he is set for life on the back of a career that seems his mug on telly a couple of times losing early in Wimbledon year on year. A top coach needs to know what it takes to win and if there is one thing we know about Lloyd, it's that he doesn't know that.

    A+s long as Murray insists on being in control he will never win anything. He plays too defensively, allows extraneous factors to upset him and far too often takes a mental holiday during a match. Add to that an abysmal 2nd serve and a failure to tone down his 1st serve to compensate with a high-80% hit rate and you have a recipe for a player managing his way to his own failure.

    That's if you count a few million in the bank as failure - and many have settled for that. And those are the two problems Murray has to address in hiring a coach:

    (1) How much of any Slam win was the coach and how much was simply about the player?
    (2) Is he actually good enough or would he be risking his "retire at 30" fund for no benefit?

    His decision will tell us a lot about he feels about his chances of winning Slams, a tough decision in a big money sport which will always throw up ever-increasing competition - there are always new Del Potros on the way up, so he has to decide... stick or twist?

  • Comment number 30.

    Hear hear Chris911T. Spot on.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just read through comments and thoroughly agree with Lizmul of 31 July. The problems with Murray's game do seem to be all to do with his mind. He goes walkabout far too often and tries fancy shots when he should just play more aggressively. He seems an enigma to me - a shy person who has a formidable talent which he doesn't seem able to channel into consistently strong performances. The next coach needs to get to his mind. Good luck to him.

  • Comment number 32.

    As long as Andy thinks there is nothing wrong with his game he won't listen to any coach, so it doesn't matter who it is

  • Comment number 33.

    I wonder if Murray will regret this decision in months to come. It strikes me clearly that in the two slam finals than Murray lost, nerves and tightness got the better of him and prevented more aggressive and clinical performances. With a so-called "world class" coach behind him, would he have won these matches? We will never know but I doubt it.

    Something tells me McLagan would still be coach today if he won one or even both of those finals and we would all be hailing the great work team Murray had done in delivering Britain its first grand slam champion in decades.

    Instead, we're chewing over who will be next in line to work on tactics, fitness and technique. But when it comes to the crunch, Murray is the only one out there on the court hitting the balls so old coach or new coach, you either have the will or not to overcome your nerves. No $5m coach will change that. Watch this space I say...

  • Comment number 34.

    Good luck Murray, from Nadal fan!

  • Comment number 35.

    Murray plays a percentage game which is great when your opponent is not at their best. When a top class player [Rafa or Fed] is on their best form Murray still falls just short of the mark - it is not talent it is strategy.

    Murray is best of the rest he just has to loosen up and let his tennis do the talking.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.