The job of football manager must be the toughest and most stressful management role on the planet. There is no hiding. Your results are immediate – once or even twice a week. Club Boards and fans want instant results. Poor performance is punished ruthlessly and in public. Humiliation is a constant companion.
Under this constant pressure one can understand why many managers rant and rave on the sidelines, on television, radio and in the press. However, they are unaware that their aggressive and insulting behaviour is damning their players to continued poor performance.
In today’s competitive world almost all football managers know that at Premier League level most players are equal as far as fitness and skills go. What makes the STAR, what makes the exceptional player is mental fitness. It is mental fitness that wins games.
So why do many managers behave in ways that damage their players’ mental fitness? Surely it can only be ignorance (in it’s true meaning) – because every manager wants success for his players and club.
So here are seven things a football manager must do to build his/her players’ mental fitness
1.Promise openly, right now, never to criticise any of your players in public. Not even if it’s justified. You’ll do your straight talking in private and if you decide to fire a player you’ll do it in the most decent way possible.
2.Tell your players that you like them, that you think they are great players and that you know every one of them does the best he/she can in every game. You trust them.
3.Do whatever it takes to get fun and enjoyment back into the team. People cannot perform at their peak when they’re afraid, worried or unhappy. Make having fun your main objective. Work hard – yes! Win games – of course. But let’s not beat ourselves up when we make mistakes. Let’s get the fun back in our football and our lives.
4.Genuinely praise even the smallest improvement or the tiniest spark of brilliance and praise openly. Especially when things are going badly. Big fires start from small sparks. Really look for things to praise.
5.Stop shouting, mocking and insulting – even in private. Your macho ego may feel good but it does your players no good at all. In fact, they’ll subconsciously hate you and will play badly to spite you – and they won’t even know they’re doing it. Concentrate on helping people do better – not on crushing them with sarcasm.
6.Make it your main goal to help each individual become the best player he/she can possibly be. Be seen to be helping players with their careers. If your club cannot satisfy the playing or wage aspirations of a brilliant player, work with him to find the best transfer possible. Imagine the effect this will have. Players will give you undying loyalty and effort when they know you are there for them.
7.Find ways to keep players’ minds focussed on success. Every day – several times a day make statements that predict success and expect success. Do not even hint at losing! Allow time for players to visualise that success – everything comes from a dream.
Yes, some money to buy in talent is helful but it is not everything. Seriously apply these seven rules for two weeks and see your team improve beyond what you ever thought possible.