Dug-out beats the stu­dio ev­ery day

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE -

THERE is a strong ar­gu­ment be­ing put for­ward that ex-play­ers now pre­fer the me­dia as a foot­balling af­ter-life rather than the dugout. It seems that the riches be­stowed upon play­ers are lead­ing them in gen­eral to avoid the per­ilous world of foot­ball man­age­ment and choose a more sta­ble life in pun­ditry.

Man­age­rial reigns just get shorter. Author­ity to do the job seems to di­min­ish. Pres­sure seems to in­crease by the sec­ond with so­cial me­dia at the heart of that.

We all get told that the days of a Sir Alex Fer­gu­son are gone and will never be recre­ated.We hear that the game has changed ir­re­versibly. That own­er­ship struc­tures have cre­ated a to­tally new or­der and that there is no go­ing back.

And yet, it would not sur­prise me to see Jose Mour­inho at Chelsea for the long haul. I be­lieve he will have a strong say in who his club signs. It would not be a shock if his dy­nasty be­comes one that oth­ers re­fer to in the fu­ture as ‘a thing of the past’.

Suc­ceed­ing in foot­ball man­age­ment is tough. Ev­ery club wants to win. Ev­ery manager does his ut­most to win. Not every­body can. Los­ing to­day doesn’t make a club a los­ing club or a manager a los­ing manager. Nei­ther does hav­ing a bad month or two.

Sim­i­larly, en­joy­ing a great month is no in­di­ca­tor of sus­tain­abil­ity. The guy who takes a job and cre­ates a surge may or may not have what it takes in the long haul.

I think things will change back, given time. It isn’t sta­ble or in any way strate­gic to keep chang­ing manager at a club. There is no ev­i­dence that change is a pos­i­tive recipe. Cer­tainly, be­liev­ing in a manager does bring benefits. But only if you let a manager be him­self and make his own de­ci­sions.

I can­not be­lieve that a club want­ing to be suc­cess­ful will truly ex­pect their manager to work with play­ers he hasn't had a sig­nif­i­cant in­put into sign­ing.

There is def­i­nitely a chem­istry needed in build­ing a win­ning team which the manager must pro­vide. He needs per­son­al­i­ties around him that spark off him and who he sparks off, too. No third party can judge that. It is a per­sonal thing.


It is dif­fi­cult for a club to be­lieve in a manager when their own­ers will be fed in­for­ma­tion from the dress­ing room, of­ten via agents of play­ers, some of it true and some of it dis­torted.

But it is im­por­tant that a club stands be­hind the man who will be set­ting the fu­ture strate­gic stan­dards. Change won’t suit every­body and clubs have to be very strong to stand by their man when re­sults wob­ble and big char­ac­ters who may be af­fected by change per­haps re­sist the change.

Anonymity al­lows vi­cious ru­mours to cir­cu­late on mes­sage boards.

Sir Alex sur­vived tur­bu­lent days. Mour­inho didn’t sur­vive his the first time around. But I do see a more rounded Chelsea now and I sense a long-term vi­sion. I feel the club and the manager are closer and I sense that both have learned lessons.

Be­ing in man­age­ment is not about fear­ing the axe. It is not about wor­ry­ing about ‘who signs the play­ers’. It is about win­ning games, lov­ing the sport, and striv­ing for bet­ter­ment.

The more you win, the longer you last and the more author­ity you wield. That’s foot­ball.

The stu­dio will never match the dugout. Just as the dugout will never match the pitch.

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