NEIL REDFEARN

Our guest colum­nist hails the peo­ple skills of Cardiff boss Neil Warnock

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

NEIL Warnock is a bril­liant man­ager. In mod­ern foot­ball, a lot of the qual­i­ties man­agers need are de­con­structed.

They’re stud­ied by ex­perts, de­liv­ered in work­shops, taught on coach­ing cour­ses. Neil does all of them nat­u­rally.

Don’t be fooled by his age or his old-school de­meanour. Neil,

pic­tured, is a good tech­ni­cian. He’s tac­ti­cally as­tute. He’s in line with any of the younger guys in that sense.

But the so­cial side of things is mas­sive. He un­der­stands peo­ple. He knows how to get the best out of them. That’s al­ways been his phi­los­o­phy and it’s never changed.

Ca­jole

Neil sees the per­son, not the foot­baller. And he un­der­stands that, to make the foot­baller per­form, you have to get to the per­son.

He’ll put his arm round them, he’ll kick them up the back­side. But, what­ever the method, he’ll push and ca­jole them ev­ery sin­gle day. I’ve never seen any­one do it bet­ter.

For me, Neil should be some­one that all young coaches study. Be­cause, for all the re­fine­ment and tech­ni­cal de­tail you’re taught on cour­ses, noth­ing will ever be more im­por­tant than un­der­stand­ing hu­man be­ings.

It’s the same in acad­e­mies. Too many fall down be­cause they look at some­one as a player, not a per­son.

The FA has a blue­print called the four-cor­ner model. It ba­si­cally di­vides the skills young play­ers need into Tech­ni­cal & Tac­ti­cal, Phys­i­cal, Psy­cho­log­i­cal and So­cial.

The first one is ob­vi­ous. Pass­ing, tech­nique, touch – the stuff that ev­ery­one does on a foot­ball pitch. Phys­i­cal is also self-ex­plana­tory.

But those things are fi­nite. On the tech­ni­cal side, train­ing lasts an hour and a half. You put the balls away and then you’re done. Phys­i­cally, you might do an hour in the gym.

The so­cial and psy­cho­log­i­cal side never stops. It wraps around ev­ery­thing, from eat­ing din­ner with your mates to go­ing home to your par­ents. That’s why, when I headed up the academy at Leeds we made that as­pect the cor­ner­stone of ev­ery­thing we did. It’s not dif­fi­cult. It’s just about fo­cus­ing on mak­ing peo­ple good, rounded in­di­vid­u­als. Be­ing very at­ten­tive to the in­di­vid­ual. We made them feel spe­cial, that we were on their side.

We had a set of stan­dards they could ad­here to, in­stilled re­spect for the club and their col­leagues. Hu­mil­ity was a big thing. Un­der­stand­ing that not all of them would make it.

I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber when young Tyler Den­ton scored his first goal in the cup at Lu­ton. He ran to the bench and all he wanted was to cel­e­brate with his mates – peo­ple like Kalvin Phillips, who’d been through the same thing. That’s what good so­cial skills look like.

It’s about man­ag­ing up­wards. We only had these kids for a few hours, then they went home to all man­ner of dif­fer­ent in­flu­ences.

Mes­sage

So, we spoke to the par­ents. We spoke to agents, try­ing to bring them into the process. They’re a part of the game and fight­ing them won’t help any­body. Our mes­sage was al­ways the same: that these were kids, not play­ers. That they should be al­lowed to go out and play with their mates, do the things that kids en­joy. To grow up with­out any pres­sure or ex­pec­ta­tion. So much em­pha­sis is placed on the tech­ni­cal abil­ity of play­ers these days, both in acad­e­mies and at pro­fes­sional level. For me, it’s com­plete rub­bish. Be­cause if you see a player in­stead of a per­son, none of that will count for any­thing. Neil is some­one who has al­ways grasped that. It’s why he’s got an un­ri­valled track record of pro­mo­tions – and it’s why I’m con­vinced Cardiff will still be up there fight­ing in May.

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