Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Picking a team up off the floor

There was an interesting pair of articles on Jose Mourinho's management style in the Indy recently: an interview of Arbeloa (before Chelsea's home loss to Liverpool) and Monday's comment piece by Ian Herbert, the paper's chief sportswriter. It seems that Mourinho is good at driving his players, ruthlessly dropping them when he feels he needs to punish, and defending his teams as a whole against administrators, referees, the media and everybody else he sees as an enemy, but not so good at putting an arm round the shoulder of individuals whose confidence needs restoring. Sir Alex Ferguson, who became notorious for his "hair-dryer" treatment, was, on the quiet, good at the softer side of management also. Bill Shankly was another with a fearsome public reputation but very good on the one-to-one side of management. It is notable that both had long periods of tenure and saw Manchester United and Liverpool through testing times as well as periods of success.

The trouble is that, Arsenal apart, Premier and Football League owners are less patient these days. Most are driven by the desire for quick returns or to cut losses. Managers like Nigel Clough, who have achieved success by building teams over a long period, face an uncertain future. One wonders how long Sam Allardyce, another "player's manager", has to justify his position at Sunderland.

Swansea City is a different sort of club and Garry Monk is part of the family, as it were. Even so, Huw Jenkins and the board have been ruthless in shifting out managers who have not lived up to expectations. The Swans are not exactly on the floor (they are two points above Chelsea in the League table, after all) and the Trust is not going to be desperately disappointed if the club does not win a trophy this season, but this does look like Monk's first real test. He has proved to be a clever tactician; is he also capable of keeping all the players onside and stopping the poor run of results?

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