Take a look at Arsenal, United and even England – they all have one thing in common. Old school managers who are not exactly known for their man management skills, but more for their ability to – especially in Fergie’s case – unleash the hairdryer and fear on their players when things are not going well.
In the modern game however, you are more likely to see a Mourinho type figure in his infamous Armani suit putting an arm around players on the touchline or being engulfed in the goal celebrations – how AVB must be jealous of this – than you are to see a Bill Shankly like figure prowling the touchline in club crested trackies.
Psychology and sports science is now at the forefront of management, with the ‘door always open’ policy being adopted by a number of younger managers and more of a camaraderie being seen between the ever younger managers such as Guardiola and the squads, with man management now the buzz word on everyone’s lips.
Don’t get me wrong, to do as well as Wenger, Fergie and Capello have throughout their careers, an aspect of man management must be there in some respect, but with managers like Mourinho and Guardiola emerging, and the success of their respective teams, coupled with the seeming decline in the ‘old school’ management style, is it now the era of psychology and man management?
Anyone who has worked under Mourinho, at any of his respective clubs will all say he was the best manager they have ever worked under, and was effectively one of the lads, knowing when to shout but more importantly when to stroke egos and put an arm around players.
Take Capello – he is certainly not one to entertain the notion of doing this and shows little emotion- to say the very least. Perhaps this is not what England need, and one of the reasons why the side have struggled so much under the Italian.
Likewise at United, while Fergie has his old guard of Giggs, Scholes and Neville around him, he had voices in the dressing room and on the field that were in tune with his, now all he has is a group of egos who are evidently not responding to his management as well as people had envisioned. It may well be the lack of that modern touch and management that United’s multimillionaires are in need of at the minute.
This is not to say that the so called ‘old school’ managers are bad by any means – simply that they may be becoming out dated. Likewise with Bruce at Sunderland, as an old school manager did Bruce really have what it took to manage the players and the egos?
John Terry was recently quoted as saying that in AVB, Chelsea have a ‘modern manager, who understands the players’ and after having spoken to fellow players at Villa and Blackburn – neither of whom are exactly setting the world alight this season – is glad that AVB is not ‘old school’ as he apparently feels Kean and co are, making players do double sessions on the training ground each day and ‘busting their guts running around.’
As Terry said, football is an ever changing game, and with this the managers have to be constantly evolving. The reason for the success at both Arsenal and especially United can be put down to there being the same core group of players for a lengthy period of time, and no need for the manager to change his way of treating and managing them – they were used to the ‘old school’ way – yet this is no longer the case, and with the sheer amount of young talent at both clubs now, perhaps it is time for a change in the managerial approach.
Clearly just being an expert man manager will not see you win the league, an astute tactical knowledge and understanding of the game is also required, and say what you will about old school managers, but they do have this, yet without the ability to relate to and manage the increasingly prima donna young stars, this does not automatically mean success anymore.
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