A Managers Half-Life

Football managers have a half-life because they are the key performance indicator (KPI). They are the intervention, when the board of directors decides is (/not) working. The time scales in football are accelerated and KPI’s are expected catalysts in performance. Managers in sport get brought into the club to create change, so they sack people; hire others and the culture changes. The board sees this change but the results are the same – often worse. There is always a drop in performance and any increase in the first month (year for athletics) is in my opinion a consequence of the last coach, not the current. If you use scientific principles, such as any Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) plan, you are considering around 10 years to develop talent. In elite football talented players already exist, are transferred between teams, sold or some retire at the age of 28. For football talent at the top does not have to be developed – it’s bought, but it has to be nurtured and supported. In most other sports, this is wholly not the case. Let us consider athletics. You are the performance manager. You enter the sport and your sole purpose is to ensure UK Sport fund the next Olympic cycle through your athletes winning medals. You inherit athletes who are consistently good, potential medal winners. You then, as most sane people would, decide to change the culture. This change initially does not work, athletes don’t like the change and performance decreases. You are sacked. The next Performance manager enters the sport and the cycle is repeated. For the majority of athletes in athletics, archery, fencing, judo, etc, there are talented athletes with potential, but developing that potential is much more important. Furthermore, to develop talent takes the right environment, the right coaches, the right opportunities and a long-term approach.

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