Lesson needs heeding in manager search
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Australia’s search for a new coach is set to intensify after the World Cup, with names like Paul Le Guen already linked to the Socceroos’ top job. Plenty has been learned by Australia’s performances on the pitch. But just as much can be gleaned from the drama off it.
Successful international coaches need a wealth of qualities to be properly equipped for the job. One quality in particular has been highlighted in the events surrounding several national teams.
France is already back in its homeland, having imploded under the reign of Raymond Domenech. The manager had hardly been a popular figure during his six-year tenure in charge, despite a brief respite of pressure when he guided Les Bleus to the final of the 2006 World Cup.
He was already set to depart after the World Cup, but Domenech would have surely been given the flick anyway after his side exited the tournament at the group stage.
Domenech and his coaching staff lost complete control of the squad following the 2-0 loss to Mexico, sparked by a decision to send striker Nicolas Anelka home for reportedly calling his coach a “dirty son of a whore”.
Of course, Domenech has plenty of company in his falling out with Anelka, also known as ‘Le Sulk’.
Just ask Vicente del Bosque or most Arsenal fans.
But what happened next was best described as “an appalling soap opera” by French foreign minister Bertrand Kouchner. First, the whole squad walked off the training track.
The players then composed a statement, which they forced Domenech to read.
It was hardly surprising that the side meekly bowed out of the tournament just a few days later.
And after refusing to shake the hand of South African counterpart Carlos Pareira when France’s fate was sealed, it is also difficult to muster any sympathy for Domenech.
Nor are the French alone in experiences problems from within. The English tabloids were sent into overdrive when
John Terry undermined just about everyone in his press-conference comments about life inside the England camp, while bad-tempered Sulley Muntari is only reportedly still part of Ghana’s squad thanks to the intervention of Black Stars skipper Stephan Appiah.
Even the Socceroos were forced to hose down rumors of their own internal unrest after the 4-0 defeat to Germany.
All of the above illustrates why managers need more than just tactical nous to succeed. Man management is just as crucial.
The World Cup is considered by many to be the globe’s greatest sporting event; an aligning of the stars every four years.
Of course, the more highly paid the sportsman, the bigger the ego is likely to be. You only need to look at the NBA for further proof.
There has long been talk of several senior Socceroos not getting along, but there would be few teams in South Africa without their small rifts and fissures.
A good manager will still be able to get all the egos working in the same direction.
It is no doubt a key factor in the thinking of Football Federation Australia’s decision makers as they ponder Pim Verbeek’s successor.
Should they need it, the drama of the World Cup in South Africa serves as a timely reminder.
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