We are led to believe throughout life, that if you’re in charge of a group of people, to get the results out of them you require you need to lead by example – show them the way, so to speak. How can you expect your charges to behave accordingly if you cannot yourself. Likewise, if you show little enthusiasm, emotion, passion or excitement, your people will feel they are doing enough to get by – why put anymore effort in?
Alan Pardew’s rush of blood last Saturday begs belief. Why he felt the need to remonstrate with someone using his forehead is quite baffling, for an intelligent and eloquent man. True, Pardew is an emotional guy, and it doesn’t take a genius to establish he wants his team to win. But there are ways and means to get your point across without looking and behaving like a drunken neanderthal thug during the early hours of a Sunday morning seeking some porr unfortunate to brawl with. I know I get very animated watching my Coventry play – during my teens and early twenties it must’ve been terrible for people in the stadium around me (one fellow next to me one game did comment if the Sky Blues played with as much desire and purpose as I displayed supporting team, they’d be Premier League champions every year without fail). And when England are competing in a major tournament - looking back at my behaviour and body language – all common sense is lost and I become a bit of a tool. Football management games on the ol’ Playstation are a no-no in my house too, as once again I’ve gotten so wrapped up in the gameplay, being Gordon Ramsay-esque vocal at times, my neighbour’s solicitor served me with a restraining order a few years back. I’m not condoning Pardew or myself getting carried away in the moment, but for some it’s hard to contain themselves, while others find it easier.
Players will look up to their manager for inspiration, some need telling exactly what to do, others already know. Getting the balance right is what matters, like Sir Alex Ferguson achieved during his illustrious career. It doesn’t set a good example to the team if the boss is involved in a bit of street hooliganism. Except if your name is Brian Clough, trying to get his own supporters off the City Ground pitch, and finding sticking one on a few of them was having the desired effect.
Direct opposite ends of the spectrum on this subject are former England managers Kevin Keegan and Sven Goran Erikkson. Keegan was beyond passionate, so determined to see his side succeed I bet at times it kept him awake at night. Erikkson meanwhile, reminds me of my bank manager when I went cap in hand to ask for a mortgage (pretty please with a cherry on top). Did he ever show any emotion when England played? Barely. Keegan’s legendary outburst when he was Newcastle manager at the climax of the 1995-96 Premier League season was pure television gold. Most of Erikkson’s press conferences were a prescribed cure for insomnia. Erikkson is hardly the sort of guy who will be sent to the stands after saying something derogatory, deframatory or insulting to the linesman, just like a certain Portuguese down the King’s Road has been on several occasions in the past.
The health conations on managers with all the stress they are under most be astronomical. Back in 2002, to prove this the then managers of Bolton Wanderers and Leicester City – Sam Allardyce and Dave Bassett respectively – were ‘wired up’ to pulse and blood pressure monitors during the Premier League fixture between both clubs at the Bolton ground in Horwich for a TV documentary. The results of this were quite staggering – both managers endured excessively high blood pressure and in the case of Allardyce, a heartbeat that shot up to something quite frightening (that of a thoroughbred racehorse galloping full tilt during the National, I do believe it was compared to) when Leicester very nearly equalised during the final seconds of the encounter. Bassett experienced heart palputions, irregular pulse and strong recommendations he should go get himelf checked out in hospital. Maybe Pardew reacted the way he did in the heat of the moment with similar occurring to him. I recall the Liverpool club doctor virtually sitting on their then manager Graeme Souness’ lap at the end of the 1992 FA Cup Final, to prevent him getting overexcited and joining in the celebrations as the Merseyside club beat Sunderland to land the famous old trophy. Souness, another excitable fellow to say the least, had only left hospital a few months earlier after heart bypass surgery, so his doctor was taking no chances. Although Souness returned to his own ‘excitable’ nature at his next club, Galatasaray, and somehow escaped with his life. After the Istanbal derby with local rivals Fenerbache in their stadium, the Scotsman ran onto the pitch and stuck a huge Galatasary flag into the middle of the centre circle after his side’s victory over their arch-rivals. Having experienced the hostility and near-conflict style atmosphere of an Old Firm derby several times when he was in charge of Glasgow Rangers, he proved how big his balls were in a different local derby which was best described as ‘a controlled riot’.
It appears some people are determined to bring trouble onto themselves, sub-consciously or otherwise. You can’t help getting carried away, I guess.