Editors Choice

The success secrets of the 50/50 coaches

Prepare to fail if you make the mistake of relying on the coaching manual for your role in football. Guardiola, Wenger & Klopp have the badges but also these key ingredients you won’t find in the textbooks.


Many DVDs, books or downloads claim to offer coaches 'the best methods & sessions' for players. Useful as they are, the most effective managers go beyond the textbook.

Trawling the internet you'll see many football practices, blog posts and sites that tout themselves as 'revolutionary'. Football, or 'soccer' is a simple game. It doesn't really ever get re-invented, rather the way it's played changes. Understanding and aims differ from level to level, sometimes even by nationality, but there is always a constant.

Some things never change. Whatever coaching qualification taken or extra materials bought, the old words of wisdom come into play; 'it's not what you've got, it's what you do with it, that counts'. This also applies to knowledge, and of course to a squad of football players.


'Coaches should put sessions & drills on with the aim of players actually reproducing in game situations'



Bojan dribbles the ball playing for Stoke against Burnley in the Premier League



Football is great because people all want to win but have to do it in different ways. There’s even more of a difference dependant on a coach's expected outcome. Some will either want to develop players or higher up the levels need to win matches.

If you look at the Premier League for example, a change in what players or manager a club has will of course affect the way a team sets out to win games.

Stoke under Tony Pulis used the weapons at his disposal. So, Rory Delap had a long throw aimed towards a 6ft 7” (2m) Peter Crouch. A midfield packed with energy could support long balls up to Crouch (who has good feet for a big-man by the way!) with Jonathan Walters looking for the knock downs.

Fast forward a couple of seasons and that same club with Mark Hughes as manager, has at any given time 2 ex-Barcelona players & 2 ex-Inter Milan players probing the frontline.
The former leaders of the club’s attack under Pulis, Crouch & Walters (both still good players) are not required as much for Hughes’ new type of Stoke game.



'When a coach arrives at a club they'll try and get players in who can carry out how they want the game to be played' 



Mark Hughes playing for Manchester United, Bayern Munich & Barcelona.Mark Hughes played for football sides Manchester United, Bayern Munich & Barcelona.



In 90% of the cases in top-flight football, a team's system is representative of its manager's tactical playing preferences (the exception, sometimes a manager may inherit a squad).

That system has been defined by a number of deciding factors for that coach. What they have personally experienced, what they have been exposed to and what they are comfortable with, and in exceptional cases, what players they have.

Regardless of the chosen style of play, the manager needs to be able to convey intentions and have players carry them out on the pitch. Successful managers can do this continuously. Of course, success in a lot of cases may not be about winning the league, it might be just a case of staying in it. Playing not necessarily to win, but not to lose!




There's not many better feelings for a coach than when something practiced in training works on matchday
Dean Gorré, football4football Head of development


Jamie Edwards delivers a talk to a set of pro academy players



Jamie Edwards is one of football's most forward thinking 'brain training' coaches. His developed understanding of the psychology of how coaches and players interact has seen him work within the Premier League & International football. 

His unique devices breakdown doubts of football's old guard in ignoring how footballers think.  A manager's abilities to deal with 'every' individual in the squad is key to winning football matches, Jamie believes.

The manual or playbook was used as reference, but the personal characteristics of that manager or coach, primarily got the result. Coaches who can get players to, 'play for them' are always the most successful.


'Belief & trust is a two way street, coaches towards players & players towards coaches'





Football's most productive managers over the years, have normally been the most charismatic, they can speak comfortably with anyone having them hang on their every word. That has not come from a football book. It has come from an understanding of people and more importantly, of themselves.

Different managers use different tactics. Jose Mourinho for example, is great at creating siege mentality, where he almost convinces the players that the world is against them and they must stick together. Arsene Wenger, is known for living a philosophy of methodical flowing football with belief and conviction.


Guardiola gives instructions whilst at Bayern Munich



Pep Guardiola (when at Barcelona) produced a team capable of playing without fear, all-out attack. His teams thought 'if we have the ball, the opposition can't score' (A legacy of both Johan Cruyff and Frank Rijkaard). He continued this approach with Bayern Munich & something that appealed enough to the Manchester City owners who have now secured his services.

Not forgetting the master Sir Alex Ferguson, who even 'the Special One' (Mourinho) refers to as 'boss'. Ferguson, by his own admission, had to change his approach to the game and how he communicated with his players. The legendary 'hair dryer' was still plugged in right up until his retirement, but when to press the on button became more thought out.

He managed his teams with fear - yes, fear. That fear didn't come from a player feeling threatened by physical intimidation or scornful verbals. It was a personal professional pride fear, coming from Ferguson cleverly creating a dressing room where players didn't want to let themselves, teammates or the 'GAFFER' down.




People like Ferguson, Wenger, Mourinho and Guardiola have been the best over many years because they look at everything about a footballer, as opposed to just, can they play!
Jamie Edwards, Brain Training coach


Ferguson set such high standards at Manchester United, that any player walking into wear the shirt had to step up and deliver. Saying that, the Scot would give a player an injection of confidence anyway, after all, it was 'FERGIE' who wanted to sign them in the first place! Something that would be mentioned in Ferguson's famous one-on-one chats with players before they joined his club.

EXCLUSIVE - The most important thing Fergie made a young Giggs do

Their achievements in football could easily be the same as if they worked on a shop floor of a factory or for a bluechip company. A skill set of management and leadership qualities would work in any successful organisation. 

Let's not forget either, as much as these coaches are good communicators and so on, they also studied the game to the finest detail.  


'To get 100% from players on the pitch, you need to understand their requirements away from it. It's a 50/50 balance'


Ibrahimovic and Mourinho talk tactics



 With Jose Mourinho taking up the hotseat at Manchester United he brings to them more than coaching credentials. The managers that went before him after Sir Alex both had some degree of success, Mourinho though has success that travels. That isn't solely down to understanding the playing requirements of countries and clubs but also the individual personnel of his players. 

CLEVER - Why Mourinho knew it had to be now

Why Mourinho knew it had to be now

Manchester United have got their man and their man has got his timing to perfection. Mourinho had to have it this way for any real chance of success.

All the greats of yesteryear and the modern day era, get their players to perform above and beyond sometimes their own personal expectations. This comes from having professional playing respect, understanding team goals and clearly communicating one another's individual responsibility to achieve success when required.

Final Note

Knowledge is great. Ability to share knowledge, greater. Application of acquired knowledge by others, greatest.

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jessicasherrattJun 19th 2017, 21:28


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