Can We Stop Over-Rating The Bare Minimum?

Football managers are often lauded for their mind games, man management and tactical planning. Isn't that the least we should expect, given that it's their actual job..?

Last Updated: 10/04/14 at 09:48 Post Comment

Latest Articles

16 Conclusions On Man City 1 Chelsea 1

Post comment

A typical Mourinho away performance that seemed to indicate the title was Chelsea's, until narrative came back to haunt them. Daniel Storey enjoyed it immensely...

Liverpool Aren't Even Exciting This Season

Post comment

Liverpool fans are seemingly resigned to slipping back into mediocrity, which in September isn't exactly ideal. Plus better Arsenal, Allardyce praise and an excited Saint...

All Articles

Do you ever watch football, hear some managerial decision being vaunted as brilliance and think, 'but surely, that's just obvious?'

When Chelsea's players mentioned how, for their game against PSG, they had trained for playing different tactics in different scenarios depending on the score, there was a general nod of wise approval at this. This is why he's a winner. It was widely portrayed as just more evidence of Jose Mourinho's brilliance. He's thought about different situations in advance. Brilliant. That Jose. What a man.

The real question is, who the hell is NOT doing this? Managers have nothing else to do all week. This is the job - thinking stuff up. So whether you're in a Champions League quarter-final or playing Fulham at home, you surely need to think of alternative strategies to deploy given certain variables? While you can't allow for every circumstance, you can certainly envisage three or four likely scenarios and plan accordingly.

Mourinho, not being an idiot, has obviously worked out it'd be quite good if you know what to do at any given time in the 90 minutes. This should be a basic requirement of the job, not regarded as a piece of unique brilliance. But of course, it didn't look like David Moyes had thought in advance about being a goal up at Bayern, nor about being 2-1 down. In fact, by the look on his face, both of these situations terrified him, but there won't be much said about it because lack of planning seems to be the norm.

Football does this sort of thing all the time. It constantly over-rates basic things, hailing their excellence.

Look at the focus on so-called 'mind games.' This was assigned to Sir Alex Ferguson and others as a wonderful asset and yet to the outside world, it was just a bloke who would complain about stuff or lie about a team selection. If he said something that annoyed another manager, that would held up as brilliant mind games. Yet people annoy each other all the time. The kid in the local coffee shop annoys me with his skinny jeans hanging off his arse and his underpants hanging out. Is this part of a mind games strategy to get me to spend more money on coffee?

Mind games has been made up. It's a fiction deployed by journalists who want to blow smoke up a manager's backside to portray them as a wizard. If it does exist it's as crude and blunt weapon as saying, 'It'll be a tough game' when you know it'll be an easy game. It's special wonderfulness is a pure invention in order to generate news stories and whip up some excitement where none exists....or am I just playing mind games on you?

Then there's 'man management.' A third grand illusion. I recall Harry Redknapp being caught on camera putting an arm around Aaron Lennon whilst at Tottenham and saying words to the effect of 'you were brilliant son.' This was immediately said to be brilliant man management. Maybe it was. Or maybe it was just a bloke doing what we all do when someone has performed well. We compliment them.

Man management is not some sort of elaborate neuroscience but, in football, 'he knows when to put an arm around a player' seems to have been elevated to an art form. It's said in such glowing terms as though the manager is a wise old Buddha whose knowledge of the nature of humanity is unrivalled and whose limitless well of empathy would give Jesus a run for his money. Obviously, you're managing a group of players and you need to intellectually and emotionally manipulate them. That's why you're called a manager. But just telling someone who has played well that they've played well is hardly a nine out of ten on the scale of original thinking is it? To hear how some managers are praised for their inter-personal skills, it's a wonder they're not all working for the United Nations. Again, it's not much but is sold back to us as brilliance.

Sometimes in football it seems as though basic competence is dressed up as stunning originality and failure excused by the very same lack of understanding about what competence is. The vast gulf between Jose Mourinho and David Moyes was there for everyone to see this week, but the Portuguese's superiority wasn't such exceptional brilliance, it's just that, by contrast, the default-standard is so low.

Johnny now writes superb northern crime novels. We love them. Check them out here: www.johnnicholsonwriter.com

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

ilarious, thanks for that. But if I may, I do suspect the reason of your partners' ire is not Tottenham, but most probably all the compusilve gambling :)

DannySmith
Backing Costa To Keep Banging 'Em In

T

wo police horses in a paddock. Horse 1: What's with the long face? Horse 2: I'm working St James Park this weekend.

hump3.
Pardew braced for protests

T

wo things. First, I can't stop reading your name as 'Dane Bowers'. Second, you used the words 'philosophy' and 'Redknapp' in the same sentence.

ajsr1982
Can United's Defence Handle Ulloa?

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Premier League: Crystal Palace beat Everton 3-2 at Goodison Park

Crystal Palace came from behind to beat Everton 3-2 and pick up their first win of the Premier League campaign.

Premier League: Frank Lampard haunts Chelsea as he earns Manchester City earn 1-1 draw

Frank Lampard stepped off the bench to score against his former club and salvage a 1-1 draw for Man City at home to Chelsea.

Premier League: Frank Lampard has mixed emotions after scoring against Chelsea

Frank Lampard was almost speechless after scoring the equaliser for his Manchester City side in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

Mail Box

Liverpool Aren't Even Exciting This Season

Liverpool fans are seemingly resigned to slipping back into mediocrity, which in September isn't exactly ideal. Plus better Arsenal, Allardyce praise and an excited Saint...

Be Careful What You Wish For, Gooners

That's the message from a Man United fan in the mailbox. Plus, thoughts on Paul Lambert's new contract, the Alan Pardew dilemma at Newcastle and lots more...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property