I know we all have our personal opinions and there is nothing more refreshing than two people with a firmly held different perspective. Viva La Difference I say. This is especially true when it comes to understanding the driving force behind football success.
Undoubtedly the main characteristic of a successful club is the teamwork ethic where everybody has a role to play and where most people involved go the extra mile. There is also clear and unambiguous leadership whether introduced by the Board of Directors or the Football Manager. Strangely, there is a great difference of opinion across European borders with some preferring a Director of Football while others like the “One Captain on the Ship” approach and a single appointment.
Whatever is decided upon there is no doubt in my mind that creating a role just for the sake of it or to pacify a loyal servant only serves to create confusion among the players. Footballers are simple characters and they are more comfortable with uniformity and consistency. Having the one point of contact suits most footballers here in the UK although there have been occasions where clubs have tried different organisational structures in the pursuit of success with very little evidence that it works.
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The Technical Director role has slowly manoeuvred its way into football in a way that has divided opinion both in the media and in the game itself. The worst example by far was the Sir Clive Woodward/Harry Redknap relationship at Southampton which was comical, unworkable and doomed to failure. Harry described Sir Clive as a “nice guy who I am looking forward to working with” but there could never be a successful working relationship, certainly not one which would improve Southampton’s fortunes.
There is also some cruel law of physics that says the dullest, most pompous person at the Football Club is the Technical Director and he is instantly recognisable because he will invariably be stood next to a microphone.
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He has mastered the art of talking without pausing so it's impossible to interrupt him. The Technical Director has also mastered the art of acting so he can adapt the role to suit. When he is with the Chairman he becomes an Egotist, when in front of the press he becomes William Shakespeare. He can indeed play many roles such as:
The Egotist - There is something in the Board Room water that makes him think he can show off without any of the usual social constraints. He will self-refer, often he will self-congratulate and take every opportunity to self-inflate. His smart phone will be placed on the table directly in front of him and he will be sat as near as is humanly possible next to the Chairman.
The Social Media Guy: Put him in the press conference and he mentions Twitter or Facebook at every opportunity just to show he is “with it”. He normally uses twenty words when five will suffice and he will use every opportunity to divulge how many famous people are following him on Twitter.
The Novelty act: He gets interviewed by a football magazine and has dreamt up the following quotes. "The future is agile" or “Time is as precious at Hartlepool as it is at Liverpool.” He hasn’t actually said anything but you remember the statements and the fact that his facial expression never changes. If the team has won the Novelty act is solely responsible. In defeat he shuffles the blame onto everything and everybody else including the referee, the pitch, the floodlights and in one famous case the colour of the kit.
Roles to play
Laptop Man: If you see the TD with a lap top it’s probably switched off and he can just about send an e-mail. His one finger typing is a dead giveaway.
The Nervous Wreck. He is suddenly thrown into the limelight after four successive defeats. The symptoms are so apparent, with countless number of gulps of air or water. There is an unnatural dependency on use of the word OK and he will always have one hand in his pocket rattling his loose change as he blames everybody but himself.
The Comedian. Six wins on the bounce sitting pretty at the top of the table and the TD suddenly turns into a cross between Ken Dodd & John Bishop. Worse still he laughs louder than anyone at ridiculous jokes such as: “Doctor, doctor, I think I'm addicted to iPads. The Dr says I can give you a tablet for that.”
Google Man. There are some very clever people in professional football but the TD has spent that much time on Google he thinks he has an advantage and knows better. He will use phrases such as “delivering competitive advantage” or “enhancing seed/growth development at grass roots level.” He forgets we all have access to Google.
The Policeman. The Policeman is my personal favourite. He speaks in the third person and is as factual as he can be in front of the cameras. He will dress it up in Politically Correct Statistical Nonsense and instead of saying “We had twenty shots on target today” it is substituted with: “The team was hugely focused on positions of maximum opportunity today as our attempts on the opposition goal will testify.”
Instead of saying “we couldn't pass water today” his offering is. “Our ball retention and technical movement fell well short of the standards expected here at the football club.”
The TD role is in my opinion a complete and utter waste of time. Bob Paisley never had one, Sir Alex Ferguson never either and I dread to think of how Brian Clough would react to being informed that he must report to a TD.
Sir Bobby Robson hit the nail on the head when he was asked about the particular organisational structure at FC Porto he said “He makes a lovely cup of tea”