The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football's Leaders, by Mike Carson
Sunday 01 September 2013
Talking to 30 top football managers about their careers was always going to unearth a trove of interesting material, and in that respect this book does not disappoint.
By far its strongest point is those managers' first-person recollections and observations, whether it is Carlo Ancelotti describing football as "the most important of the small things in life", or a surprisingly humble Jose Mourinho saying: "I think there are two ways of travelling with the players on a plane – everybody goes in business class, or if there is no room for everybody then the players go in business class and you go in economy class with your staff".
Yet around these insiders' views, distilled from extensive interviews throughout last season, the author, "a leadership expert specialising in business and human transformation", has seen fit to weave a jargon-ridden superstructure with the stated intention of fashioning his material into an inspirational manual on leadership. In his preface he says it is written "for all football managers"; for "leaders in all forms of endeavour"; and for "the football fans" – note his chosen order.
Those fans will have to wade through plenty of talk of "behaviours", "stakeholders", "taking ownership" – what most people would call taking responsibility – and sections such as "Delivering Results" and "Crisis Response and Turnaround", and the conclusions often seem statements of the bleedin' obvious: "at the heart of leadership lies an ability to inspire people; "the tendency of great leaders [is] to take ownership of their situations, however difficult"; and so on.
While, unsurprisingly, the interviewees view their role as the key one, with owners coming second, Sam Allardyce claims: "The kit man is one of the most important people at any football club".
Maybe publishers have missed a trick: managers, owners and scouts have all had their say, the last-named honoured recently in The Nowhere Men by Michael Calvin of this parish and Scouting for Moyes by Les Padfield, but those unsung heroes of the boot and utility room must also have diverting tales to tell. Get Your Kit Out For The Lads, perhaps?
Published in hardback by Bloomsbury, £16.99
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