The ex-Steve­nage boss on five key prin­ci­ples for clubs and man­agers

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: -

THE be­gin­ning of a new sea­son is al­ways a hugely op­ti­mistic time at al­most ev­ery club. What­ever has hap­pened the pre­vi­ous year, and in­deed in pre-sea­son, is sim­ply for­got­ten. There is in­vari­ably a huge feel­ing of ex­pec­ta­tion that this next sea­son is go­ing to be ‘the one’.

And then the sea­son be­gins. And within hours, or days, the feel­ing is ei­ther mul­ti­plied mag­nif­i­cently, fes­ter­ing away or erad­i­cated com­pletely.

A cou­ple of wins or a cou­ple of losses and clubs are al­ready talk­ing about the need for change! We all be­long to a most in­cred­i­bly emo­tive sport.

My most re­cent league ti­tle was se­cured af­ter we won one, drew three and lost one of our first five games. So I know per­son­ally that a stink­ing start does not de­fine your sea­son; un­less you let it.

The facts are that most clubs will go on to achieve a po­si­tion broadly in line with their ex­pen­di­ture in their league. It was a pub­lished statis­tic that just ten per cent of man­agers are able to achieve a league po­si­tion that is sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter than the fi­nan­cial po­si­tion of their club within their league.

If man­agers are de­fined to some de­gree by the at­ti­tude within their clubs, the ques­tion is ‘what is the right at­ti­tude to choose?’ I think there are five keys. First, what­ever hap­pens, keep pre­par­ing to be­come bet­ter. Look at the tech­ni­cal, tac­ti­cal and teamship at­tributes in ev­i­dence; look at the phys­i­cal, per­sonal and pro­fes­sional com­pe­tence on show; ap­praise the men­tal­ity be­ing dis­played. And sim­ply seek to con­stantly im­prove on all these key lev­els.


Sec­ond, keep fo­cused on win­ning the next game.You do not win a league ti­tle by wor­ry­ing about the team that has started strongly; you win your next three points by beat­ing the next team that you play.You have to get ready to do that con­stantly and re­lent­lessly.

Third, avoid ex­cuses; they are a plague. The play­ers that you don’t have or the in­juries that you do have can­not help you.

The play­ers that are avail­able need to be pre­pared and mo­ti­vated to play and win the next game. It is about get­ting them ready.

Fourth, you have to keep be­liev­ing in the re­al­is­tic am­bi­tion that you set out with.You don’t give up on your am­bi­tion be­cause of a cou­ple of bad re­sults.

You don’t lose your sense of ad­ven­ture or fun. If you be­lieve that you are the best then you have to prove it by pulling through good and bad times.

Fifth, you have to be able to re­act to good and bad days with the same emo­tional rage; in other words, you have to de­sire suc­cess as much as you feel an­gered by de­feat.

For a club to be suc­cess­ful, a club and a man­ager need to stand to­gether around these five prin­ci­ples. If you look to­wards the men who have no­tably over-achieved, it is a fe­ro­cious work ethic and these five traits that burn very bright in their ar­moury.

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