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Passion and fire part of a manager’s make-up ...
The LMA, or League Managers’ Association as it is now, was formed in 1992.
Being a founder member, I watched the many changes for the good over the years.
The PFA, the players’ union, have always been very strong.
The biggest single thing they achieved was making sure that when the big television money started coming in, the PFA got their share.
When we got more organised as managers’ union I remember saying to the executives ‘at present all decisions in football seem to be made by a mixture of the FA, Football League (as it was then, now of course Premiership), and the PFA. Then they are handed down to the managers to implement’.
The task then was for the managers to join those others on the top table.
This has now been achieved through many years of hard work and good organisation.
I still don’t think there is any share out from the TV money, certainly not in the same league as the PFA where Gordon Taylor continues to do an excellent job for his members.
John Barnwell retired after about 12 years good service and Richard Bevan, who had been with the cricketers’ association, took on John’s position.
In a short time, as far as fund raising, he has certainly gone on another level by organising events along with big city firms who have been happy to be connected with the managerial side of the professional game.
As life vice-president, I am often asked to attend some of these functions.
Recently, for instance, Joe Jordan and I went to the Rose Bowl for a function which was a joint event by the LMA and a big insurance company who are one of our sponsors.
They have three or four of these events around the country for their customers and the LMA have to provide experienced managers who, on the night, mix and mingle with the clients and then have a questions and answers session.
A huge function was also held at Wembley conference centre and I was asked to host one of the tables which happened to be a big London firm of accountants.
The highlight of the evening was the Q&A and interview session hosted by Richard Keys of Sky TV with the two leading lights from our game, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.
The director of the company on my table said at one stage he just could not believe he was seeing these two gentlemen on the same stage talking to each other in such a friendly fashion and being so entertaining to the audience.
I had to explain to him that the family of managers is reasonably small.
At any one time there are only 92 actually working full time and we are a bit like ships in the night, passing each other at games where other teams are playing.
But when you actually play against each other, that is when the fierce independence and will to win for your own team comes out.
Naturally, sometimes it bubbles over during the game and certainly in the after match interviews and now and again, particularly with old timers like Sir Alex, he likes to drop in a pearl or two in the build-up to a fixture to try and wind-up his opposite number.
But away from all of the competition, it is a family where at any one time young managers are able to call on the seniors who are very happy to give advice and help.
The good thing about the LMA is, as Richard Bevan said at an AGM, ‘once a member always a member’.
This is very important, particularly nowadays when the length of a manager’s time over the whole 92 clubs at present is on average one year and three months.
Whilst 92 are in work, many more are on the outskirts trying to find some kind of employment and that’s where the LMA have even started to obtain positions abroad.
They also provide help legally so when managers get into trouble with either the authorities such as the FA they can call on their union, who willingly give help.
It was noticed by all in the strange cases we have in the last week where two managers, Tony Pulis and Jim Magilton, have been accused of physical assaults on players in their own clubs.
This of course makes good headlines and provides probably more than a few laughs and jokes.
But it proves that what I have said that in-built passion and fire is part of the manager’s make-up.
Friendship goes out of the window for that Saturday – at least until about 30 minutes after the final whistle, when the managers usually share a cup of tea or drink before the bus leaves.
A manager is rarely comfortable with his team’s performance and of course if you are in a relegation situation, or losing a cup tie – as happened this week to a non-league club in the case of Kettering – tempers can erupt and it is always in that period after the game.
If everything could stop at 5pm and be taken on again on the Monday morning it would be a lot different.
The wrong word said at the wrong time by a player when a manager has been going on about that performance which he has not liked can take the manager over the edge.
Whilst I do not know exactly what happened in these two cases, I can say there has been many occasions that I remember, not just in my own dressing room, but stories from others, of events on Saturdays after games which even the participants looking back have got to laugh at but at the time are deadly serious.
I remember tales of well known managers not just kicking a boot – as Sir Alex did famously which unfortunately landed on Mr Beckham’s head – but one man in particular was in the middle of a rant when the innocent kit man came in through the door with a tray of tea.
It not only finished halfway down his clothes but in every corner of the dressing room as the manager let fly.
Incidents like that certainly never got into newspapers, even though some of the press men would know about it. As we’ve seen in every sport, not much happens now without finishing in print.
There is also a difference in the players’ attitudes, particularly at the top level with so many foreign newcomers who have possibly been brought up in a completely different atmosphere.
They do not accept someone shouting or trying to point out their errors.
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