Spirit or Experience? That is the question

When it comes to any challenge in life, experience is necessary. However, going into life’s challenges with a good spirit may allow you to achieve similar results, if not better ones.

The situation is the same in the football world.

Managing a football club can be one of the toughest jobs. There is pressure from the board, players and especially the fans. You want your name to be remembered in history – for the right the reasons, not the wrong. But in this day and age what makes you a manager to remember?

Some say, “We pay to watch football, but more importantly to be entertained. Without spirit you alienate the supporters”.

Others believe, “Football is just about winning trophies. Aggression and arguments are good to create a bit of fight.”

But what would you rather a manager bring into your team to get you to be the best?

Spirit or Experience? That is the question.

The role of a manager at a football club is vital. Making the right choice could change the future of a club. Sometimes making the right choice in manager can be better than having the best players in the world at your club.

Look at Leicester City. They won the league in 2015-16 with Claudio Ranieri. They didn’t have the best players, they had only just been promoted two seasons prior. They were the bookies favourites to be relegated. His appointment seemed to shock many. He had managed many sides including Chelsea ten years prior, but he wasn’t very successful and had only won two ‘minor’ trophies in the 21st century. Nevertheless, despite lacking in experience, look what he achieved, the biggest shock in football history around the world, he had installed spirit and belief into his players that they could achieve anything. And they did.

If he has finished second that year with The Foxes, would he still have been remembered for what he did for the city of Leicester because he ‘didn’t win a trophy’?

Vardy-lookalike and Leicester City fan, Lee Chappy, explained how that one season changed the city and club of Leicester forever.

Chappy said: “Ranieri brought a loving character to the manager position here at Leicester, the city felt his warmth. Spirit is a human feeling which can last an eternity given the end result to a season like Leicester City had.”

He also described how success and achievement isn’t all about trophies.

“Even not winning the Premier League, finishing high enough to even secure a Champions League spot is truly an impossible task for a side like Leicester,” he said. “That would be an achievement itself, even without a trophy as an end result.”

What determines success?

Pele, one of the best ever footballers, defined it as “no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”.

Two Premier League clubs that are often compared are Tottenham and Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are similar in many ways. Both have built a team high on spirit, giving hugs after games, the players spend a lot of time together outside of football too, like a big family. Both have been managers at their respected clubs for over three years. However, in this time neither have won a trophy. So, who has been more successful for their club, if trophies don’t always determine success.

Some suggest it must be the Liverpool manager because he took them to the Champions League final. However, their net spend in the last three years is over £200 million more than what Pochettino has spent at Spurs. So, are Liverpool underperforming for the amount they have spent? Since Klopp has been in charge of Liverpool they’ve never finished above Tottenham. But how does this compare to the likes of Manchester United who have a manager, Jose Mourinho, who takes a completely different approach to how Liverpool and Tottenham are managed. He’s a very experienced manager. But, divides the camp and cause tension amongst the players.

Mourinho’s won around 25 major trophies in his career, more than most. Including eight with Chelsea and three with Real Madrid. He’s currently been at United for around two years and has already won three trophies including the UEFA Europa League. Despite this he often causes arguments.

This season United are struggling in the league, over ten points adrift from the top of the table. The team has started to fall apart with arguments lowering morale. One always hitting the news is Mourinho’s relationship with The Red Devils most expensive signing Paul Pogba. Most recently Pogba publicly criticized Mourinho’s tactics after Jose stripped the vice captaincy away from the French international.

Relating back to how Pele defined success as, “no accident… and most of all, love of what you are doing”, does a divided camp make football enjoyable? So, could these arguments be a factor in United’s dip of form.

Manchester United season ticket holder Elliot Fletcher explained how Jose needs to drop the attitude.

“He’s very moody and grumpy,” said Fletcher. “It’s my way or the high way sort of attitude, which is useless when other coaches or players have a valid point and it reflects in how the team performs. As a supporter I would rather see a manager getting along with his players creating togetherness as it shows that the players actually want to play for the manager…

…Tension in a club is unneeded.”

Steve Flynn, season ticket holder at Manchester United for 27 years, said how Jose’s methods only bring in short-term success.

“Jose has a history of dividing the camp, he might get short term rewards, but it doesn’t lead to sustained and enjoyable success. Creating a strong spirit within a club can enable those who are less talented to punch far above their weight, look at Leicester’s success.

Flynn then used United Legend Sir Alex Ferguson as an example.

“Even Ferguson’s teams were not technically the best in the league, but they achieved success through hard work built on solid team ethics.”

Spurs season ticket holder of 20 years, Simon Wright also reiterated Ferguson’s success.

“Ferguson took years to build a team… but then the world was his.”

So, in football what is necessary? In life what is necessary? Spirit is vital for morale which everyone needs to succeed. Experience enables you to use the knowledge you already have. But, more importantly what will allow you to possibly achieve the best results you can.

Spirit or Experience? That is the question.

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