One of the most fascinating subplots in this season’s Premier League is the advance of a new generation of managers, the likely successors to Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and the rest.
Garry Monk, Eddie Howe and Alex Neil are all aged 37 or younger and are the rising stars of their trade; young, innovative and dynamic.
Take Monk at Swansea, for example. The 36-year-old guided the Welsh club to a hugely impressive eighth-placed finish last season but was already well advanced in his planning for the new campaign.
Pleased to have signed new contract at this fantastic club.
Working towards a bright & exciting future with this squad.#jackarmy— Garry Monk (@GarryMonk) July 10, 2015
So advanced, in fact, that he had already put in an order for 30 ’sleep-pods’ to be delivered to the training ground.
When they arrived his players laughed; after a few days of double sessions (planned with a five-hour break between them) they were taking turns to use them.
Considering he is balancing leading a football club with being a father to 18-month old twins and it is hardly surprising that Monk himself admits that he rarely gets four hours of sleep a night.
But so ambitious is he that a question about being the next England manager is not as ludicrous as it may sound at first. He bats it away – ’I have always been patriotic...managing England has to be the ultimate job, but I think that question has come a little too soon’ – but if Roy Hodgson leaves after next summer’s Euros then Monk would have his supporters.
Mourinho, for example, shows him a respect he does not afford Wenger, and when Monk takes Swansea to the champions tomorrow evening it will not be simply as an underdog but instead as one of the sharpest managers in an increasingly tight league.
“What I do with the players is I take away as many excuses as possible so they are accountable for everything,” he says.
“With the sleep pods if they had been driving home between sessions they would have said, ’oh, it’s the driving that’s the problem’.
“You could see the first day, they aren’t so tired and don’t use them – they are too cool to be in there. Once you start double sessions they all start crawling in and it’s quite funny.”
And what of the competition between himself, Bournemouth manager Howe and Neil at Norwich?
“Hopefully we are proving that given the opportunity they (British managers) can do well and there are good British managers.
“What is exciting is that we are good young ages, and there is that competitiveness between us which is good and good for the league as well.”
Good to be back here!August 1, 2015
And Howe has a committed supporter in Mourinho. When the two meet at the Premier League launch in South London they greet each other like old friends, and Mourinho clearly has a respect for Monk that he does not for certain others in his profession.
“I haven’t had lots and lots of dealings with him but the times we have met and spoken he has been very humble, a very good guy and very supportive towards me,” Monk says of the Portuguese.
“That is important and you have to look at him as the benchmark for this league and his career in terms of what he delivers year in year out.
“A lot of times (when you meet other managers) you don’t want to talk about the football. It’s just how you are getting on with the job, how you feel – the human side of the job more than the football side.
“The more experienced managers tend to ask you those questions as they understand and have been through it a lot.
“They ask how you are dealing with it and then give any advice from there. You just say to them ’no sleep’ – that’s how it is.”
No sleep is an unusual recipe for success – but it’s working for Monk and Swansea.
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