There should be room for mav­er­icks

I’D PICK PI­ETERSEN FOR SURE

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

The League Man­agers As­so­ci­a­tion pro­duce an ex­cel­lent pub­li­ca­tion called The Man­ager and in a re­cent is­sue, the sub­ject of manag­ing mav­er­icks was dis­cussed.

I thought of that this week as the Kevin Pi­etersen furore un­folded. The big point that came out of that magazine piece for me was the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­cat­ing proac­tively with your mav­er­icks.

The need to ex­press strong opin­ions is in their per­soan­l­ity, so it is al­ways best to en­sure you an­tic­i­pate those opin­ions.

It isn’t a ques­tion of bow­ing down to these char­ac­ters, it is a ques­tion of en­gag­ing them.

The ex­treme in­di­vid­u­al­ity of the mav­er­ick can be dis­rup­tive and de­struc­tive to the team en­vi­ron­ment. There may be no ‘I’ in team. But there is a ‘me’ so there has to be room for great tal­ent.

Mike Phe­lan told me about the pres­sure that Cris­tiano Ronaldo brought onto him at Manch­ester United.

“What have you got for me,” was his morn­ing mantra. Mick told me he felt chal­lenged ev­ery day to have a train­ing idea that could make a dif­fer­ence to Ronaldo.

I wouldn’t call him a mav­er­ick in the Eric Can­tona sense of the word but his de­sire to suc­ceed was an in­tense as­pect of work­ing with him that cre­ated a spe­cial in­di­vid­ual need and de­mand.

Roy Keane leav­ing the Ir­ish camp at the World Cup due to poor or­gan­i­sa­tion and what he saw as a lack of se­ri­ous in­ten­tion is an­other ex­am­ple of the mav­er­ick at work.

Here was a man ob­sessed by win­ning who just wanted things done ‘right’. He be­lieved strongly he was be­ing a team player by de­mand­ing the high­est stan­dards for and from the squad. The mav­er­ick in him took steps that the nor­mal per­son doesn’t take.

Mav­er­icks aren’t nor­mal; they are phe­nom­e­nally strong char­ac­ters. A great ex­am­ple of the mav­er­ick be­ing har­nessed is at Liver­pool in the way Bren­dan Rodgers seems to have har­monised with Luis Suarez. By work­ing to build un­der­stand­ing, club and player ap­pear to have joined to­gether.

Pi­etersen ap­par­ently spoke out against the man­ager and cap­tain in a team meet­ing be­cause he be­lieved the team could burn out by over-train­ing. His ‘un­der­min­ing’ was seen as a fi­nal straw.

How­ever, there is strong med­i­cal ev­i­dence that he is right. If peo­ple are taken be­yond their point of per­sonal re­silience, through a pres­sure to work harder, per­for­mance can nose dive.

En­hanc­ing per­for­mance may well in­volve tak­ing a foot off the pedal and work­ing smarter, not harder.

For me, it is healthy for a team to be an en­vi­ron­ment in which ev­ery­body can be hon­est and ex­press strong opin­ion. It is im­por­tant that the man at the helm is will­ing to be wrong or to recog­nise that there may be more than one way of achiev­ing an out­come.

I am sure there will be peo­ple who see me as a mav­er­ick. I am ca­pa­ble of be­ing out­spo­ken. I won’t sit back if I know there is more that could be done to suc­ceed. But my in­ten­tions aren’t about ‘me’ they are about col­lec­tive suc­cess.

If I man­aged Eng­land, I would want to pick Pi­etersen. For sure.

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