People Management in the World of Football

Employees are the biggest assets that any organisation has. Their productivity, personalities, overall well-being, all have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line. Hence, managing these assets is of utmost importance for any organisation’s health. To create a productive and efficient workforce, a successful manager needs to deftly tackle both positive and negative aspects of People Management, whether is recruiting top talent or letting them go; whether it is up-skilling them or moving them down the line for poor performance. People management is no mean feat and requires a focussed mind, empathy and clarity of purpose to be performed successfully.

The field of Football can provide excellent role models to follow in terms of People Management. After all, when you have to take a team of approximately 24-30 players, coach them, guide them and lead them to victory in different challenging competitions amidst soaring fan expectations, you have to excel at managing that team. Football is full of managers who have proven their skill and intelligence over the years, and we can take a few lessons from them as to how to get the best out of your team.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Alex Ferguson's People Management skills have been exceptional.
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If you know football, you definitely know Sir Alex. He managed Manchester United for 26 years, during which he won 38 trophies. A supremely impressive feat, if you’ve ever seen one! He made United a force to be reckoned with, and time and again proved why he is regarded as one of the all time in greats as far as Football Managers are concerned. What made him so good? How was he so successful? Moreover, the success that he brought about was not limited to the pitch. Manchester United is now a hugely profitable football club spanning revenue streams from all sorts of imaginable merchandise, with a wide fan base across the globe.

Sir Alex’s distinctive feature was his knack for identifying young talent. Several players, such as David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gary Neville made their debuts under Ferguson and went on to have widely successful careers. He put his faith in new talent and persisted even in the face of bad performances, backing it up with constructive feedback and encouragement. This belief enabled the players to push themselves to the best of their capabilities. Another area where any Manager needs to be good at is motivating his employees. Sir Alex was second to none in that regard. He inspired United to defeat Bayern Munich and win the Champions League late into injury time. Granted, sometimes he went a little too far, such as hitting Beckham with a shoe to express his disappointment. But hey, even great leaders falter and have a bad day at times, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t take away from an otherwise all-round impressive resume.

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola and his brand of people management.
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Out of the all Managers who are currently active, Pep Guardiola stands out far above the rest. He has proved his skill in three different leagues with three different clubs. While his detractors point out that all these clubs have had significant resources, financial or otherwise, at their disposal, the skill and tactics that go behind leading these clubs to become superpowers cannot be denied. His most successful stint so far has been with his boyhood club F.C. Barcelona, where he won the most number of trophies in a single season, an astounding six cups in 2008-09. He later moved onto Bayern Munich and won the Bundesliga with them. He currently serves as the manager of Manchester City, who have made breaking records as a habit under his leadership. What distinctive skills does Guardiola possess?

Guardiola at City has focused on hiring the best possible talent with all the resources at his disposal. City have spent a lot on new players, but these investments have paid off as they have now won two consecutive league titles, as well as a historic domestic treble. He has been determined to implement his playing philosophy and has not wavered even in the face of criticism. Barcelona’s domination with tiki-taka can be wholly attributed to Pep, and now City’s distinctive brand of attacking Football has also originated from his mind. Guardiola inspires to stay steadfast with your core principles, and that there should be no embarrassment in using all the resources at your disposal.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho and his undeniable swagger at work.
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Jose Mourinho, or ‘The Special One’ as he is sometimes called, has made winning something of a habit. He has won the Champions League, the biggest trophy in European football, with three different clubs. He has also won the leagues in Portugal, England, Italy, and Spain. Mourinho is characterised by his pragmatic playing style, where he emphasises results rather than playing stylish or ‘beautiful’ Football.

This pragmatism is accompanied by a rather reserved disposition. Mourinho frequently puts on an act for the media, and plays mind games with the opposition, engaging in both verbal and physical duels. His players have regarded him as being someone who can really connect with them, capable of changing the entire team’s mentality. Mourinho has had his problems, being sacked on his second stint with Chelsea and by Manchester United, but his charisma and swagger are undeniable, as are the results of his management philosophy.

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