I reflect on two common phrases about managers

In the world of football, it’s quite normal to hear the same phrases over and over again. Some people will never stop saying certain things that are simple, yet true, like what Johan Cruyff used to say: “if you score one more goal than your opponent, you’ll win”. Whilst there are other sayings that I don’t completely agree with, or that need analysing a bit further.

For this article I have chosen two sayings that I would like to talk about.

“This manager is good because he treats all players equally”

I have heard this phrase my whole life, and when I started to manage, I realised that it’s not true. It should be “I like this manager, or this manager is good, because he respects all his players equally”. Treating them all the same is impossible.

Why? Because each player has a role in the team, some roles or more important than others and there are different characters who have to be managed or treated differently because of their personality. And that’s why the famous phrase doesn’t sit well with me.

There are thousands of stories that prove my point, but they are difficult to tell because I’m from the era of “what happens in the changing room stays in the changing room”. But as a brief example, you can’t treat Messi the same as the rest, it’s as simple as that.

“The best thing about my job is figuring out what will happen in the next match”

One of the most important things for me is analysing the opponent and looking for ways to win the match. As Guardiola says, when you watch your opponent, you discover and visualise what could or should happen in your game against them, and that sparks this energy and joy in transmitting this idea, coaching it and convincing the player to put it into practice.

The more you can do this, the better manager you become, so a lot of your success depends on your mental image of what is going to happen in the game.

If I were to tell you that we spend Sundays in England watching the next opponent, watching the two Premier League games on TV and then watching the next opponent in preparation for the week, you would say that we managers are mad. But the truth is that this sometimes-lonely job is key to winning the next game.

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