Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughNew to the job - a manager's perspective - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough New to the job - a manager's perspective - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

New to the job – a manager’s perspective

Nigel Adkins has recently been appointed as manager of Reading and his sole task is to help the club avoid relegation from the Premiership. How then does a new manager actually approach the daunting task of trying to rapidly improve the fortunes of a club, and lead them into a position where both the fans and the players are content?

A new manager is expected to improve upon the performance of his predecessor, who is likely to have had his tenure ended with dismissal rather than deciding to accept an opportunity of career progression. We can also assume that in most cases the squad will be similar, if not identical, to when the outgoing manager left.

The first task faced by the new manager is to assess the playing staff and work out quickly where any weaknesses are, what areas can be improved, and whether there are any problems and issues within the squad that are affecting morale. Once this has been achieved the important task of coaching the team can begin, and restoring and raising the confidence of the players will be just as critical as the technical and tactical developments.

After making an appointment the owners will be hopeful that the new manager has the tactical and motivational abilities they desire, and that he can get more out of his players than anyone else beforehand. Wishful thinking perhaps, although it is true that a change can bring about a rise in fortunes due to players needing to prove that they are worthy of a starting position. There can also be a heightened sense of belief around the training ground that everything is about to click into place and improve, and a feel good factor coming from the new manager who is eager to get to work and begin the task of training and developing all the talent at his disposal.

These factors are all countered however by the lack of time afforded to a manager, particularly at a high profile or historically successful club. We have become a society that demands, and expects, everything in an instant; time is our most precious commodity and we are not willing to waste it. Everything is focused on instant gratification and we expect the same from our football teams; if a club does not win a game then there is discontent amongst fans because they don’t want to wait for victory.

History suggests that when a manager is given some time to put his own stamp on things, and develop his players and team to play in a way that he wants, then success will come, although obviously this success is relative. A team such as Manchester United would be expected to challenge for titles both domestically and in Europe, and their success is therefore gauged against how many trophies they manage to win. Put that in contrast to a team such as Wigan, whose aim would be to avoid relegation, and so success for them is staying in the Premiership.

Sir Alex Ferguson needed more than 3 years when he began at Old Trafford before he got his first taste of success, and look at where he has managed to take the club since then, now recognised worldwide as one of the greatest and most successful clubs in existence. Would we see a manager given that sort of time these days in the harsh environment of England’s top division? I don’t think we would, and realistically it is more likely to be less than a year, let alone three.

A manager in a new post should try and ease himself into the role without making too many changes too soon. Andre Villas Boas made this mistake at Chelsea by declaring that the squad’s older and more experienced players were no longer required and needed replacing, although their subsequent success in the FA Cup and Champions League was based around ‘the old guard’ of players like Drogba, Lampard, Cole, and Terry. It is worth noting that AVB had received his marching orders from Stamford Bridge before these triumphs, and hopefully he has learnt his lesson so as not to repeat the mistake at Tottenham.

Introducing new methods of training and preferences for the style of play desired will inevitably be a challenge, and changes can be scary no matter what your profession. What is required is an ability to communicate with the players why you want them to perform certain activities, or why doing something in a particular way will help them to develop and allow the team to play better. As soon as the players believe in the manager and his methods, the sooner the team should begin to gel and play effectively.

Motivating players is also a key factor, as the players will want to win not only for themselves and their teammates, but also for their boss. Once this sense of responsibility is embedded the players will feel a loyalty to their manager, and he should know that every player will give his absolute maximum for him. This is the moment when a team starts to head in the right direction, and once momentum is built it is very hard to stop. Confidence breeds more confidence, and good results strengthen the bonds between all involved.

There are many other factors that need to be taken into consideration for a new manager, and his is a journey full of challenges and obstacles to overcome. Bearing all this in mind, who would be mad enough to want to be a manager?



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