The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football's Leaders

BOOK: The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football's Leaders
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CONTENTS
FOREWORDS

An intensely contested environment, where the competition constantly strive to outwit, outperform and beat your best endeavours. Where the will to succeed is just the beginning
and the positive combination of a hundred small differences can be the deciding factor between winning and losing. Where the investment in culture, training and implementation of the game plan are
crucial. Where results are judged in the harsh light of a few numbers and the best talent available is rare, highly mobile and in increasing demand.

Elite football management... or familiar aspects of managing in the corporate world today?

This is a rare book. It looks through the eyes of the people who manage some of the most high-profile football clubs in the world and asks: how do they navigate these challenges, how do they
motivate their teams to achieve tremendous success and overcome underperformance? It’s an unprecedented glimpse behind the curtain at the true role of the manager.

Louis Jordan

Vice Chairman and Partner, Deloitte

What does it take to be a good leader? Whether it is business, or football, leadership is an important quality if you want to succeed. There have been a myriad of management
books talking about leadership in abstract terms. But what better way to learn about real leadership skills than by reading what people like Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger and José
Mourinho say on this complex subject.

Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs nearly 150,000 people, so effective leadership in a global business such as ours is essential to sustained success.

We have been global title sponsor of the Barclays Premier League and lead sponsor of the League Managers Association since 2001 so we are delighted to also support this book.

Mike Carson has been able to draw on some of the most successful and best known managers in football, yet they all have very individual views about what leadership means to them, and how they
get the best out of their teams. What is clear from this book is that there are traits that all great managers share: passion for the game and the drive to continuously improve.

I hope you enjoy the book.

Antony Jenkins

Barclays Group Chief Executive

1992 witnessed the birth of two great football institutions, the Barclays Premier League and the League Managers Association. In the 21 years that have followed, we have worked
extremely hard to look after our members – the current and former managers from the 92 professional football clubs in England – to protect their welfare and represent their collective
voice. As a group, these managers have a vast wealth of accumulated knowledge and experience, acquired by managing many thousands of games at the very highest level. During this time, through the
LMA’s work in supporting its members, we have slowly and painstakingly earned their trust, their respect and their confidence. A priceless by-product of this process has been unprecedented
access into their extremely private and personal world.

Since our beginning, the education and development of our members, and prospective members, has been a responsibility we have taken very seriously. In this respect, one of our major objectives
has been to meticulously research and identify those characteristics and traits common to the best of the best. Our findings leave us in absolutely no doubt; the quality which sets apart the very
best from the rest is ‘leadership’. The best managers are passionate about football, obsessed and driven by the need to manage and succeed. Without exception, they also share a
crystal-clear sense of where they are going; they know and understand how they will get there; and they have that precious ability to get inside the hearts and minds of those they work with and
convince them to follow. They all possess an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, a passion for learning, and a willingness to successfully adapt to changing times and circumstances. In addition,
they all have a huge generosity in their willingness to share information for the benefit of those taking their first treacherous steps up the slippery slope of football management. It is this
willingness to share that has enabled the LMA to methodically develop our own Leadership Education Programme, ‘Survive, Win, Succeed’, as we have sought to ensure that all our members
receive the best possible start to their careers.

We are therefore extremely proud and delighted that this, our first book, has set the bar so high. The managers and former managers who have contributed to this book have amassed in excess of a
staggering 15,000 competitive matches between them and along the way have accumulated every major domestic trophy available in their respective European competitions. Their success is due –
in part at least – to their awareness that a football manager has to be more than what we traditionally understand the term ‘manager’ to mean, and to their ability to encompass
aspects of leader, father figure, coach, and psychologist roles into their daily work. It is a complex job, all the more impressive for being carried out under the unique, relentless public
scrutiny that accompanies their every move. Season after season, their unique skills enable them to transform vision into reality. Season after season, they are tasked to make the aspirations and
dreams of millions come true, and they do.

I thank all those who have contributed so generously to this very special book – including Mike Carson, whose energy and enthusiasm have been boundless – and I hope that you enjoy
its content and the unique insights it offers into the hitherto very private workings of the football manager’s mind and into that hallowed place that is the professional football dressing
room.

Howard Wilkinson

Chairman, League Managers Association

www.leaguemanagers.com

June 2013

PREFACE

Football as a sport and more broadly as an industry is unique – in the breadth of its appeal, the scale of its support and its ability to generate emotion. For
generations, the game has created extraordinary memories, offering us visions of sublime skill and moments of great passion. It has also generated pain and anguish, and tragically has known its own
human disasters. Across the world, it both divides and unites people of different races, nationalities and every conceivable status. It is the sport of rulers and workers, of children and the
elderly.

In Britain, the people with the task and privilege of leading football at the front line are the managers. In fact, their role has only a little to do with management, and much more to do with
leadership. The men who lead in the upper reaches of professional British football – especially in the world-famous Barclays Premier League – are truly extraordinary. The work they do
is intensive, personal, technical and critical – critical to the success of their teams, the growth of their clubs and the happiness of many. It is also subject to intense public scrutiny:
their every move – whether witnessed, surmised or merely imagined – is subject to widespread analysis in almost every forum imaginable, from bar rooms through offices to internet blogs
and live television and radio broadcasts.

My intention is this book will appeal to many people from different camps. At one level, it is simply a book for all football managers – both serving and aspiring. It brings together
insights from the collective wisdom of almost 30 people at the very top of their game. At another level, it is written for leaders in all fields of endeavour: business, education, government,
non-profit, the arts – any context where individuals lead other individuals and teams in their pursuit of meaning and success. My own work is with business leaders, enabling them to lead from
their deep strengths, and I know that there is real value for them in this book. This is not to say that any one manager has all the answers – or even that the full cohort has cracked it
between them. But there is a set of circumstances from which emerges a compelling language of leadership that will be useful to leaders in any and every setting and culture. And at a further level,
the book is written unashamedly for the football fan: the men and women who love the game, and who – like me – are simply fascinated by the challenge and want to know how and why these
people do what they do.

These managers are fascinating. For the most part, they are true natural leaders. One of them commented to me: ‘You have the harder task. I just have to do this stuff – you have to
explain it! I just do it all by intuition.’ This may be simple modesty, but there is a considerable element of truth in it – and this perhaps explains the appeal of the book. It is
written as a first-hand insight into what these leaders think, feel and do to lead in this most dramatic and demanding of settings.

In writing, I have made extensive use of the voices of the managers themselves who I was lucky enough to interview in depth through the 2012–13 season. As the work progressed, powerful
themes emerged: in every case I have sought to surface, illustrate and simplify these themes so that we can all come away with practical and helpful ways of thinking. My intention is for the
leaders among you to identify within these pages some of your own struggles, challenges and successes, and to create a language from this that will enhance your own practices. For the fans among
you, I hope you will join me in appreciating the enormous complexity of the task that our often-criticised managers undertake. And for the football managers and coaches among you, I intend it to be
an interesting and memorable take on how some of the great leaders achieve success.

I would also like to acknowledge the excellent work of the League Managers’ Association. In providing a professional home for its members, it is taking the art of leadership in football on
to excellence. The LMA’s own leadership model, emerging at the time of this publication, is perceptive and valuable. As it evolves, it will become a very valuable tool for the profession for
generations to come.

Hope Powell, manager of the England women’s team since 1998, has made an important contribution to this book and a huge contribution to leadership in the sport overall. As an important
point of style, in all cases except for Powell, I have used the masculine pronouns of he, him and his. This is because the book is focused almost exclusively on experiences of Premier League
leaders past and present, and the Premier League at the level of players and managers is an exclusively masculine environment. This issue of style in no way passes comment on the abilities of the
rapidly growing body of women leaders in football or elsewhere.

Finally, it has been a personal joy to work with the LMA and the managers themselves on this project. You have been generous with your time and your insights; and I have been struck by your
humility. Thank you.

Mike Carson

June 2013

PART ONE
BOOK: The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football's Leaders
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