When you think of managers who have stood out in the game, Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, Jock Stein and Alex Ferguson immediately come to mind. Note well folks they are all Scotsmen.
England did have Alf Ramsay who, as we are constantly reminded, produced a team that won the world cup in 1966. When he took over the squad they were certainly no world beaters so he put belief in the mind of the team, much as a boxer’s handler does for his fighter.
In his early build up matches he carefully selected beatable opposition and gradually increased the quality of his opponents whilst continuing his winning ways. By the time the world cup came along he had England believing they could beat anybody, even though he was given a bit of help by a kind Russian linesman.
Sadly the euphoria of being world champions was short lived as they were beaten at home by Scotland in their very next game. The score line was only 3-2 but if Jim Baxter hadn’t taken time out for a bit of urine extraction, the humiliation would have been more decisive and deservedly so.
To be fair to Alf, his tactic of building belief is one of the assets of a top manager and you can forget the bully boy approach to man management as being the way forward. When pundits and commentators continually suggest that managers motivate their players by giving them the “hairdryer treatment” they are indulging, as they often do, in verbal diarrhoea.
A squad consists of several individuals and as individuals they need a personal approach for not being at their best. As an ex-manager of large staff group I believe it is essential to establish what makes each individual tick and find the solution that suits that person. A collective diatribe or picking on individuals in front of their mates at half time on match day could prove counter productive. A quiet word on an individual basis pays dividends even if it means holding back in the tunnel on the way out after the break.
Man management is a vital element of the manager’s portfolio and Jock Stein was arguably the best, with the others very close behind.
Finally, match tactics are equally important and, again, Stein had a slight edge over the rest. But hey, all of them were, and still are, equally the best – which makes me proud to be their countryman.