Sir Alex, the best in the business?

The roles, responsibilities and skills to be a great manager

By Laura Dodds

Sir Alex Ferguson is undoubtedly a legend in football due to his major success as the manager of Manchester United for over 25 years. A ten time winner of the Manager of the Year award in England, Sir Alex has achieved more than any other professional league manager, a feat that has him highly regarded by almost every aspiring manager or coach.

We all know football is a results based business and therefore if the team is winning, the manager is reaping in the rewards, but success does not just happen overnight, and there are many roles, responsibilities and skills Sir Alex possesses to allow him to oversee some of the greatest XI’s we have seen. As he manages a large team, his main role is to manage and take charge or training and the team’s performance, and this includes tasks such as picking the team who will participate in the game, as well as deciding which players will be replaced during a game. If a fully fit Wayne Rooney isn’t the first name on the team sheet in the Manchester derby, I’m sure a lot of fans and pundits would be calling for his head before the game has even began and rightly so, but it is this role that divides the good managers from the great managers. Having the ability and the knowledge to know your players and make that decision that makes the opposition start questioning themselves and take focus away from their own preparation. Of course, the right decisions need to be made in order for the team to be successful, if the wrong players are playing for the type of game, it is likely that the team will not perform as well and the coach/manager is responsible for this.

You wouldn’t go to Wigan on a Saturday afternoon and play 5-4-1 and settle for a 0-0, especially if you’re the manager of one of the biggest clubs in the world, so it is important that ‘Fergie’ get’s his tactics right, and you’d have to say 90% of the time, he does. Another role is to educate the players, on both on and off the field issues. With all the technology and analysis that is involved in the game nowadays, new tactics and formations are generally carefully planned out, from the secret plan for that new player they’re calling ‘The next Lionel Messi’ to that well thought out set piece that works about one in ten times. It is part of the job description to make sure the players are aware of all these little details and with the help of backroom staff, make sure everyone knows their own roles in order to give the team the best chance of winning the game. As footballers are often labelled as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘bad role-models’, it is part of a football manager’s job to educate his players about their lifestyles whilst they are not playing. Most of them are obvious, don’t have a night on the town on a Friday night when you know you’ve got a 3pm kick off the next day, and don’t be found in a hotel room with two blondes and claim you ‘have no idea how they got there’, but other issues such as diet and fitness are also essential parts of football and will therefore need to be addressed. This will be particularly important in young players such as the youth squad at Manchester United as if they are not educated correctly, their performance can be affected as they will not be able to utilise their skills and talent in the correct way. Playing for such a big club means that everyone will look up to you, so if Alex Ferguson tells his players what his expectations are, any of them with half a brain would listen and set a good example to all the aspiring footballers out there, both male and female. One of the main responsibilities Sir Alex Ferguson has when coaching his team is to have professional conduct at all times. This includes making sure he always conducts himself to the highest level of ethics, integrity, accountability and responsibility, as well as treating all of his players with dignity, confidentiality and respect. This is important as there needs to be a professional relationship between the coach and players in order for the team to function in the best way possible and for there to be trust throughout the team.

You don’t become a premier league manager through luck or money, you make it to the very top because of skill and hard work, and that applies to everyone, even the messiah that is Sir Alex. One of the main skills that has made him so successful is organisation. Managing a team of superstar ego’s is not easy, and neither is handeling an on form Sergio Aguero so it is important that the team is well organised in terms of knowing where they need to be at a certain time on the football pitch and what shape they need to play against a certain team. The manager also needs to organise training sessions so that the team are being coached on appropriate topics, otherwise there will be no progress. A lot of planning goes into football games nowadays so organisation is essential to success, and anyone who isn’t as supporter of Manchester United might even suggest Sir Alex is good at organising his ‘Fergie time’,and to anyone who isn’t a fan of football, this is basically the coincidental mass of injury time signalled by the referee at the end of game when the red’s aren’t winning!

He isn’t always the most well liked man in football, but no one can doubt Sir Alex Fergusons ability as a football manager, and a quick look at his managerial record would prove this. It is the consistency of his skills, and the way in which he carries out his roles and responsibilities which makes him undoubtedly the greatest football manager the sport has seen.