YOU got exactly what was stamped on the tin with Guy Branston in nearly two decades as a player.

The much-travelled centre half, with the proverbial collection of clubs to out-do Tiger Woods, was the stereotype lower-division defender. No frills, no thrills and as uncompromising as they come.

But cut through the tough exterior and there is a deep thinker about the game.

Opponents still nursing the bruises from previous encounters may find it hard to fathom but Branston is clued up on how football is evolving.

He has picked up the business side of the sport as well as the coaching, recently passing his UEFA A licence badge.

Among his group on the course at the National Football Centre in St George’s Park were Michael Collins and Martin Drury.

So Branston has an insight into the football brains in which Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp have entrusted City’s immediate future.

And while he can understand the scepticism that has greeted the change in approach the owners have introduced, he also feels fans should embrace the new chapter.

“Why can’t you try something different?” he argued. “It gets a bit of freshness into it.

“Why shouldn’t the chairman have an opportunity to implement a system he wants at a club he owns?

“And why shouldn’t lads get that opportunity that they’ve studied for years and years to be a coach?

“It’s not the old days when the same people would walk into one job, get sacked and then find another. People mention names like John Sheridan or Keith Curle but Bradford are trying something new.

“If you’re respected as an A licence coach, there aren’t many in the country. It’s the modern way of thinking getting young lads through.”

Branston, who counts City among 16 league teams that he played for, knows how hard Collins and Drury have worked to earn their chance. He also spent a time with Greg Abbott at Notts County during a spell there as head of recruitment.

He added: “My ‘after life’ as a footballer was working with and for Greg Abbott and he’s a feisty so and so.

“He works very hard. I totally understand he will go in there and educate the two younger lads.

“When you’re dealing with Michael, he’s very driven. He was an introvert character when I was doing the coaching badges but I played against him – and he was a very good midfielder as well.

“I’ve known Martin because he started with me at Sheffield Wednesday. He didn’t have as big a career as Michael but he’s done every coaching manual you can get your hands on.

“I know them as lads as well as coaches but, being in my group, I was really impressed with both and their ideas.

“The majority we were working with have gone on to manage and that’s the whole point.

“People can make a mockery of coaching. But I think it’s an unbelievable talent to be able to go and teach men how to play football, because they want to tell you at times.”

Branston had a taste of the continental-style set-up at Meadow Lane when Notts Country brought in Dutchman Ricardo Moniz. It was a complete failure that led to relegation and the head coach’s exit within eight months.

Branston said: “It didn’t work because he didn’t listen. He wanted to bring in Dutch lads but I was always questioning that I couldn’t think of anyone from Holland who was successful in the lower leagues.

“We clashed all the time. Nobody would listen to Guy with his 20 years of experience in League Two but rather someone who had won the premier division in Austria.

“That’s why it’s refreshing to see foreign owners who want to employ English guys.

“I just hope they will be allowed to coach in a way that gives them the opportunity to grow a team that’s together.

“And in Greg, you’ve got someone with an unbelievable pedigree alongside. He’s managed, he’s coached and he’s been head of recruitment so knows both sides.

“Any appointment is a risk because it’s not an exact science. But if they are given time to implement ideas and their philosophy, not chop and change, there’s a good chance it could go right.”