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NEW ARTICLE : What Makes a Good Manager?

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The heartache of Saturday has had many of us questioning Chris Powell's ability to lead the team. With every point now vital even the most ardent supporter must have hosted some private doubts, and with the sacking culture of football these days the quick and easy 'solution' is a change of personnel. But what makes a good manager? What makes the difference between a Moyes and Ferguson, a Villas Boas and Mourinho or maybe a Powell and Curbishley..?

To become a top manager I feel that there are a number of key attributes which either come naturally or through playing experience, or must be learned. Without these, especially when such naivety or even stupidity is displayed on a consistent basis, the individual's position will be called into question. Combine that with a run of bad results and you will have unhappy sets of fans regardless of the club.

Transfer dealings - Rightly or wrongly, a manager is often judged upon the performance of players he brings into the club. For example, when we think of Iain Dowie we don't think of necessarily think of another dismal loss at Wigan but of Djimi Traore and his ilk. On the whole Powell should be praised for those he has introduced. There have perhaps been exceptions but all managers are prone to the occasional failure. It's not wasting money that counts.

Tactical nous - This is harder to judge. There have of course been various poor results and the football on display has often been unsightly, but our away form in the prior two seasons was among the club's best ever. Especially last season against clubs with far greater budgets it is to his credit that we triumphed at the likes of Leicester, Watford and Burnley. This doesn't excuse some terrible showings at The Valley but it is worth keeping in mind.

Playing style - All fans like to see free-flowing, attacking football. For success though, this isn't mandatory. Jose Mourinho and Fabio Capello are two of the most successful managers of our era and despite having millions to spend have preferred to build from the back. What they have always done is instilled a winning mentality; aesthetics are secondary. Given his resources I don't think Powell can be criticised too harshly, desperate hoof ball excepted. When winning League One we often played the 'right' way but with the step up we have been forced to try and adapt. Results excuse poor football but we haven't had the results this season. The specific reasons for that only a few people will know.

Adaptability - If you play the same way you will soon be worked out. Changing formations, switching wingers, set pieces can all be altered before or during the game. Powell has experimented here, we've seen 3-5-2, 4-3-3, a midfield diamond all trialled with mixed success. We've also seen players moved around the pitch, usually to our detriment. During the game an amount of foresight is also needed - this seems to be an area where other managers have out-performed Powell. Chasing a game our Plan-B is to hit long and hope, unfortunately I think Powell lets us down with regards to his manoeuvering.
Holding on to a lead - To win you need to stay ahead. Camping in your own half invites pressure and means conceding chances. Powell fails badly here. However, he is not unique in this. In both games against Ipswich this season they have taken the lead and the far more experienced McCarthy has ordered his side to sit back. It worked once for him, the second time it didn't. We haven't got the players to retain possession high up the field, therefore a compromise needs to be found. What that is is for Powell to work out.

Building a dressing room - Of this I have no doubt Powell is the right man. As well as the fun and games Twitter now gives us an insight to, he was able to start over with a totally new squad in 2011 and quickly turn them into a team. Some of our best results have come after a poor loss; this demonstrates the ability to re-build morale, while reports have said he isn't afraid of the proverbial hairdryer. I think we can definitely say he has the respect of the players. When he loses this there really will be issues.

A Ruthless Streak - Think of who you consider to be the best manager you've seen. They had one. This means taking no crap, selling and dropping players when seen necessary, and at times upsetting others. I am ambivalent here. While players have been brushed aside they've soon found themselves back in the team and we've had the same problems. This could be something that comes with experience, as long as mistakes are learned from then Powell should improve.

Experience - Something you can't buy or replace. We are seeing the emergence of novice managers at big clubs but the Championship is a different world. Were Powell making some of the above errors at the age of fifty then I would truly be concerned. Pretty much all facets of management link either directly or indirectly to this and with Powell being young we have to accept that things won't be perfect. For those calling for his head, please don't recommend a replacement of a similar age.

To conclude, it does appear that where Powell loses out is in his ability to exert influence upon a game. Look at Barnsley or Yeovil though and they're probably saying the same, were they able to do so then they wouldn't be below us. Likewise for them it is probably due to insufficient resources and players, in Charlton's case it goes far beyond Chris Powell.

The next six weeks are make or break time in our season. Doncaster besides, most results have been excusable one way or another but it's the consistency of them that's been the issue. However, in this time our defence has largely remained steadfast. We all know about our struggles to score and hopefully the new recruits along with further midfield reinforcements will help to rectify this. If anyone can handle a hasty integration of multiple players then Chris Powell can and he deserves the chance to prove this. Should we suffer another couple of Doncasters or be relegated limply then it will be another matter.
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Comments

  • Interesting question, hard to answer. One thing that I believe makes a big difference is round pegs in round holes. For instance Eddie Howe was doing a good job in Bournemouth, and became uplifted to a bigger Club. Unfortunately he struggled, and is now back at Bournemouth again doing a good job. Curbs was brilliant for us, but nobody else after West Ham has grabbed him as a Manager. Selecting the right manager therefore becomes a real art, and just looking at some of the owners out there, you can see how the managerial merryground goes happily spinning. If we were to lose CP, I would like to see Brian McDermott arrive, but what do I know ?
  • I know I now live up north, and very rarely see Charlton, only occasional away game, but the problem reading other opinions here is weakness with favouritism. I kept reading how well Cousins and Stephens played in midfield and then when Jackson was available, changed it to fit him in. We all know how influential Jackson has been over the last two seasons, but why break up a winning duo. With all the new players coming in, if Jackson is not better than others then leave him on the bench, where he can still come on and do a good job. If I am wrong, it is only by reading other comments on here.
  • I think Chrissy has a lot to learn about affecting a game with changes. I don’t claim to know more about tactics – that would be ridiculous. But I have been watching football studiously for over 40 years and I think it might be possible that I can read when a change needs to happen better than a lot of managers can. And I think there are probably quite a lot of fans who could say the same. There is a bit of arrogance in the game that doesn’t appreciate that viewing thousands of games as a supporter will give you an important and useful insight that you might not get playing in them. I couldn’t train or build a team, deal with egos, identify the right approach or tactics so my ability is very specific and limited, but I think it is unwise to think that there are some aspects of the game that fans can’t be more knowledgable in than managers.

    I think Chrissy is the sort of bloke who is open to learn and question his decisions so he will become better at this over time. He has shown in the key areas that he is very strong and I think it is important we persevere with him. If a team set up against us with 5 up front from the start, a manager would be quite happy – lots of opportunities to exploit that. What Chrissy has to twig onto is that if a team changes to that approach after 60 minutes, the same opportunities are there and over time you will always lose more points than you gain by making this approach effective by sitting back too much.
  • edited February 2014
    I was listening to an ex chairman of a non league team on talksport a few weeks ago . He made the point that a chairman pays for average players and it's the managers job to make them better than what they are.

    His point was that when a manager is whining for more money to spend on players in the press it's an admission from them that they are not very good managers and are attempting to blame the board.
  • I was listening to an ex chairman of a non league team on talksport a few weeks ago . He made the point that a chairman pays for average players and it's the managers job to make them better than what they are.

    His point was that when a manager is whining for more money to spend on players in the press it's an admission from them that they are not very good managers and are attempting to blame the board.

    WHich is a bit simplistic. Whilst true a manager should make players better players - they won't necessarily become Messi or Zidanes and that can't be the manager's fault.
  • 90% win rate
  • edited February 2014
    Many times this season Powell has looked like he doesn't have the foggiest idea what to do.


    Lets hope he proves the doubters wrong now we are heading towards the business end. I would love that.
  • We can break it down, but to me you can sum up all the above in one question - is the manager making the most of the resources he has at his disposal?

    I suspect the way we judge our squad will be a major factor in which side of the fence we fall.

    To me, Powell's two full seasons suggests the issue lies more with the squad than with the manager, notwithstanding the areas he can improve in. If you have a weak bench, for example, you're going to have less chance of positively changing a game than a manager whose bench is packed with internationals.
  • rikofold said:

    We can break it down, but to me you can sum up all the above in one question - is the manager making the most of the resources he has at his disposal?

    I suspect the way we judge our squad will be a major factor in which side of the fence we fall.

    To me, Powell's two full seasons suggests the issue lies more with the squad than with the manager, notwithstanding the areas he can improve in. If you have a weak bench, for example, you're going to have less chance of positively changing a game than a manager whose bench is packed with internationals.

    Totally agree
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  • Chris Powell strikes me as an excellent manager, because he always gives off the impression that he knows the strengths and weaknesses of his players and the opposition in detail. I imagine that is why, with the exception of away matches at Burnley and Doncaster (although man was sent off in that game), it is always a narrow loss or victory in matches.
  • Chris Powell strikes me as an excellent manager, because he always gives off the impression that he knows the strengths and weaknesses of his players and the opposition in detail. I imagine that is why, with the exception of away matches at Burnley and Doncaster (although man was sent off in that game), it is always a narrow loss or victory in matches.

    I would have to disagree, purely on the basis that CP does often struggle when opposition teams change their formation mid-game, or bring on a super sub type player. So while he is better than some credit him for when it comes to matching up with the likely starting formation, far too often plan B is once again 'defend up, attack long' repeated for long periods.

    The narrow defeats and victories are simply due to Powell favouring low scoring games, as is his right to do and like Curbishley before him, not a sign of tactical ingenuity to my eyes. Which is not to say he has no tactical nous whatsoever, but getting one goal and then sitting on it is his master plan, and he sets up to achieve it, normally very well. It's what happens when this fails that is his major weakness in my opinion.
  • On Adaptability - CP has changed formations not to experiment or try something different, but to counter or match up to the opposition. Which I agree with. You have to be aware of what the opposition are trying to do.

    Agree with Rikofold. The best managers get the best out of the resources they have. Mourinho did it brilliantly at City the other night. Attention to detail.
  • One factor you did not mention ... Luck!
  • thenewbie said:

    Chris Powell strikes me as an excellent manager, because he always gives off the impression that he knows the strengths and weaknesses of his players and the opposition in detail. I imagine that is why, with the exception of away matches at Burnley and Doncaster (although man was sent off in that game), it is always a narrow loss or victory in matches.

    I would have to disagree, purely on the basis that CP does often struggle when opposition teams change their formation mid-game, or bring on a super sub type player. So while he is better than some credit him for when it comes to matching up with the likely starting formation, far too often plan B is once again 'defend up, attack long' repeated for long periods.

    The narrow defeats and victories are simply due to Powell favouring low scoring games, as is his right to do and like Curbishley before him, not a sign of tactical ingenuity to my eyes. Which is not to say he has no tactical nous whatsoever, but getting one goal and then sitting on it is his master plan, and he sets up to achieve it, normally very well. It's what happens when this fails that is his major weakness in my opinion.
    Do you think this is - at least in part - due to limitations on his squad? I remember Lennie once talking about how he had to use "guerrilla tactics" because he knew he didn't have the players to compete with the better footballers in the other first division squads.
  • thenewbie said:

    Chris Powell strikes me as an excellent manager, because he always gives off the impression that he knows the strengths and weaknesses of his players and the opposition in detail. I imagine that is why, with the exception of away matches at Burnley and Doncaster (although man was sent off in that game), it is always a narrow loss or victory in matches.

    I would have to disagree, purely on the basis that CP does often struggle when opposition teams change their formation mid-game, or bring on a super sub type player. So while he is better than some credit him for when it comes to matching up with the likely starting formation, far too often plan B is once again 'defend up, attack long' repeated for long periods.

    The narrow defeats and victories are simply due to Powell favouring low scoring games, as is his right to do and like Curbishley before him, not a sign of tactical ingenuity to my eyes. Which is not to say he has no tactical nous whatsoever, but getting one goal and then sitting on it is his master plan, and he sets up to achieve it, normally very well. It's what happens when this fails that is his major weakness in my opinion.
    I hear exactly what you say, but Powell just comes across as a very intelligent and well informed bloke. I remember an article where he once explained how much detail and research he went to when recruiting players in the summer of 2011.

    I have every confidence he knows already, for eg, what key strengths Zigic has and whether Morrison, Dervite, Wood or Lennon are best off dealing with him. But the best option might still not be good enough!

    What must be tricky at the moment is getting to know all the newbies who he hasn't recruited. Then the pitch problem, a nervous crowd and loss of big characters like Yann. Tough job. And he'll get slagged off by some whatever!!!!!
  • Jeez another praise the Lord (Powell) thread as a header, don't you get bored of this?

    results are all that counts for a manager. Lets hope CP produces on Saturday, we need it.
  • Jeez another praise the Lord (Powell) thread as a header, don't you get bored of this?

    results are all that counts for a manager. Lets hope CP produces on Saturday, we need it.

    You are going to be chased out of town Steve :-)
  • I am trying to get my abuse numbers up, most of them seem to happen when I question CP's divinity :-)

    Though some are for abusive behaviour that are well deserved.
  • To answer the question - What Makes a Good Manager? - I saw an interview with Paul Ince (not my favorite bloke) on TV where he was asked about what was SAF's strongest point as manager.

    He replied instantly that SAF's best asset was that 30 minutes before kick-off he would sit the team down and speak for about 10 minutes and give them the four or five key things they had to do to win the match.

    He would not blind them with tactics or go on for ages but would identify the key battles that had to be won and how to win them - and Ince said he was usually bang on the money.
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  • A question that I don't know the answer to as I don't get to games very often for obvious reasons. Does CP have one of his coaching team sitting in the stands, giving a different perspective on the game than seen from the dugout? Curbs always had someone there, usually KP if I remember correctly, and you'd see him jog down the stairs at some point during the game to give advice.
  • KP still does that job.
  • rikofold said:

    thenewbie said:

    Chris Powell strikes me as an excellent manager, because he always gives off the impression that he knows the strengths and weaknesses of his players and the opposition in detail. I imagine that is why, with the exception of away matches at Burnley and Doncaster (although man was sent off in that game), it is always a narrow loss or victory in matches.

    I would have to disagree, purely on the basis that CP does often struggle when opposition teams change their formation mid-game, or bring on a super sub type player. So while he is better than some credit him for when it comes to matching up with the likely starting formation, far too often plan B is once again 'defend up, attack long' repeated for long periods.

    The narrow defeats and victories are simply due to Powell favouring low scoring games, as is his right to do and like Curbishley before him, not a sign of tactical ingenuity to my eyes. Which is not to say he has no tactical nous whatsoever, but getting one goal and then sitting on it is his master plan, and he sets up to achieve it, normally very well. It's what happens when this fails that is his major weakness in my opinion.
    Do you think this is - at least in part - due to limitations on his squad? I remember Lennie once talking about how he had to use "guerrilla tactics" because he knew he didn't have the players to compete with the better footballers in the other first division squads.
    No, I can't accept that a squad he can adjust/set up to deal with variety of threats/formations before the game suddenly loses all those permutations once the ref blows his whistle. I can admit that yes he has limited options... but options nonetheless, not simply 'defend with ten men, bring on Dervite' for what feels like the thousandth time.

  • The bottom line is that ultimately a manager is really only as good as the players at his disposal.

    At the moment Powell is effectively trying to get a League One squad to succeed in the Championship and I don't see anybody could really do much better than him even if they had written a PHd on tactical formations.

    Who do we have that would get into the team at a top-six team in this League? Wiggins and Sollly - that's about it.

    Kermorgant and Stephens (when here) were good players but would not make the team of anyone in the top-six whilst Hamer and Morrison are good players but they would also be struggling to make those top sides.

    Of the rest Wood, Dervite, Green, Hughes, Harriott, Cousins, Church and Sordell are honest players but not in that top-six category.

    As things stand we are basically getting what we paid for - we can only hope that will change.
  • edited February 2014
    I feel he only has two of those attributes at this current time(transfer dealings (which is debatable) and building a dressing room)

    I love Powell and want him to stay, and get some backing in the summer, but why do so many people get so defensive when people give there opinion and that they want Powell out. It's pathetic, all fans deserve there own opinion. Powell should be questioned regarding several things,along with dyer when they turn up at the Bromley addicks or wherever it is he is booked for. But then again us mere mortals won't be privy to what is said there anyway.....
  • A good question would be to site the Yeovil, Wigan games and others and ask why when teams take attacking risks to get back into the game, it is always a cue for us to develop a siege mentality - why don't we try to exploit this situation in a offensive sense? I don't think that is a rude question, and I would genuinely like to hear his answer. If he says it is the players - I would respectfully ask a follow up - whether he is concerned then, that making defensive substitutions sends them the wrong signal.
  • Interesting points
  • edited February 2014
    Maybe not the detail of the tactics, but whether the tactics lead to sitting back completely or trying to have an outlet or even an offensive plan to exploit an exposed defence – surely the manager can concern himself with the detail, but the fans can from their observations have an opinion on the right approach –Surely, that is just as valid as any professional’s view on what approach works!

    Another example is having a player on the line for free kicks. Anybody who watched us in the Premiership under Curbishley will see that the pros outweigh the cons in this approach. There is statistical evidence from this period that would be difficult to argue. But most managers seem to ignore this evidence like it wasn’t there! As fans, we can see things that many professionals simply can’t. With the player on the line – how many goals did we concede from a free-kick as a result of employing this tactic? One is the answer – Thierry Henry with a perfect effort at the Valley! Chrissy will say – he leaves it to his keeper to decide – so Hamer , in his early twenties, will know more on the subject of game statistics than somebody who has watched thousands of games!

    These are my points and it is too easy to dismiss them by saying the professionals know best. We should rightly acknowledge the many things they do know more about, but there are some areas that I would value the view of experienced fans just as much as those of inexperienced managers.
  • Congatulations to all of you who have made this thread an intelligent well thought out exchange of differing views, rather than an exchange of abuse. More like this please.
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Roland Out!