Spending power is important, but the right coaching philosophy still has a role to play in the quest for success, according to The Secret Footballer
It is that time of year. The ultimate juxtaposition. The old you meeting the new you. Out with all the vice and in with veganism and gym memberships.
This year will be different. You are going to be more focused at home and more focused at work. Why? Because you want to be successful. More so than last year.
You’re going to get everything that you ever wanted. That six pack and the luxury seven-star holiday, the sports car and a bigger house with an extra bedroom and possibly a man cave. Or possibly a woman cave.
Your personal endeavors this year are all geared towards one thing. A better life. A more comfortable life. You will do this by presenting material things others can only dream of.
People can witter on about the importance of contentedness but I am a firm believer that money takes away an awful lot of the shit that flows in and out of my life.
When I don’t have any money I become edgy and short with people. And when I have money I stand tall with happiness and ambition. One less problem to worry about today. That makes me content.
Football is no different. Football shoehorns all these emotions and juxtapositions into every single season and ultimately every one of them boils down to money.
City won the league? Well that’s because they have more money than anyone else. Isn’t Harry Kane doing well? Yes, but Spurs will sell him if they get the right price. Leicester won the league though, didn’t they?
Yes, it just goes to show you don’t need all that money. Aaron Lennon is depressed? How can he be depressed on £70,000 a week? I’ve heard all that and more at various stages of this season. And we’re only halfway through.
This week I tweeted something that was so obvious to me that it was hard to understand why so many people retweeted my thoughts and starred it as a favourite tweet.
It read: “It has less to do with how much you spend, rather the quality that you buy. Jose could have had Sane for £37m but he bought Pogba for £90m. He could have bought Jesus for £30m but he bought Lukaku for £90m. It happens when you choose ‘names’ from agents over your scouting network.”
This of course was in response to comments by Jose Mourinho who suggested the £286m that he has spent since taking over at Manchester United in 2016 is “not enough” and that City “buy full backs for the price of strikers”.
I could have written a chapter in a book about his comments. The first thing to say is that you need to take what Mourinho says with a pinch of salt.
He is the master manipulator. He is truly in the Ferguson mould. When he has a go at a referee that was less than favourable to United in their last match, he is really talking to next week’s referee as if to say, “everyone is now going to be watching you”.
When he talks about other teams having more money, he is really talking to his owners, “get your hands in your pockets in the summer chaps”. And whenever he’s talking about failure, he’s talking to Arsene Wenger, but I think that’s just for his own personal amusement.
City may have spent more but that may not be the case season on season. Think about the fundamental difference between Guardiola and Mourinho. The truth is that both are capable of spending a lot of money. It’s what happens to those players once they arrive at their new club that stands them apart.
Mourinho coaches a system into his players. Guardiola coaches a philosophy into his players but he also coaches them individually and they become footballers as a result.
Rule number one of football: It is much easier to defend than it is to attack. That is where the key difference lies between the two managers of the Premier Leagues top two sides. City players will get better and better, Mourinho’s players will be replaced with better players as they become available.
Under Mourinho I have yet to see a player sign for United who is a better footballer now than when he arrived. But at City? The list is endless. De Bruyne is a good example. His performances were good last season but they have been on another level so far in this campaign.
At Chelsea, Mourinho had no patience for the Belgian international and no interest in improving him. He sold De Bruyne to Wolfsburg for £18m.
Sane is playing football from another galaxy and Raheem Sterling has been exceptional, having been threatened relentlessly by the media and pundits alike with the ‘overrated, overpriced, overpaid, young English player’ brush.
If there is a better example in the Premier League this season of one to one coaching improving a player then it is Sterling. But all over the pitch City are improving under Guardiola. Otamendi, a player that many said is out of his depth in the Premier League, is now the key component in a defence yet to taste defeat this season and has shipped just 12 goals.
How has all this happened? Let’s go back to the signings. Mourinho’s approach is simple and it always has been. Give me the finished article and I will coach my system in to him. And where do finished articles come from?
They come from the worlds biggest agents. Mourinho’s biggest frustration is that he is struggling to get hold of the finished article. He is verbally frustrated with players like Luke Shaw who makes mistakes but has potential. He is frustrated with Lukaku because the frontman was the closest thing he could get to a polished diamond in the last transfer window.
The agent of choice at United right now is the Italian Mino Raiola who has managed to persuade Mourinho to sign Lukaku, Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba for a combined £210m. At anywhere between 15%-20% commission, Raiola, like the rest of us, isn’t doing it for the love of the game.
Money will always talk in football, always. But at this time of year it’s also worth a moments reflection to look at ourselves. Are we any different to the world of football and it’s obsession with money? Are we any different to the aspirations of Railoa, Mourinho, Guardiola and all the players paid well to play the game?
I worked in a supermarket once. I did it for the money. I also played professional football. I did it for the money and the glory was my bonus.
Football revolves around money. Most fans that I know would like a Chinese or Arabian billionaire to take over their club. They want Lionel Messi to sign for them, to hell with the cost. They want a big plastic, state of the art 60,000 seat stadium packed to the rafters every week.
This year I will do things that help to make my life more comfortable financially because having been there once I know the difference to my happiness that having money makes to me. And I am absolutely unapologetic about it and you should be too.
Have a great 2018, but like the world of football, just be careful what you wish for.
Spending power is important, but the right coaching philosophy still has a role to play in the quest for success
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