Today, we’re going to talk social competence, because that’s often a consideration overlooked when fans think about a new leader for their club. We think tactics, trophies, hair density, how much they dance about on the sidelines.
Jokes aside, social competence is one of the most important aspects of a managers game, and quite often the defining factor in success. The man who represents your club sets the tone for how your brand is perceived, they can inspire sensational player to move to shitty areas, they can make average players believe they’re heroes.
Barcelona passed on Mourinho because he was a brand destroyer, but players like CR7 describe him as one of the best motivators in football. Jurgen Klopp has a band of average players on the verge of a Champions League final, those players feed off him. Leonardo Jardim took a group of inexperienced youth players and made them the most exciting attacking force in Europe. Social competence matters, and it comes in many different forms.
Arsenal and Arsene have tried to reflect their values in the squad, ultimately at the expense of trophies. Whether it’s keeping Diaby for 5 years too long, giving crap players massive wages to help with their feelings of inferiority, or keeping nice boys like Theo around… all were attempts at managing the psychology of the club for the better.
We celebrated values over accomplishment, and that has to stop. But there’s a clear demarcation line of the type of coach we could hire, it’s good versus evil (through the lens of Arsenal). We could opt for an out an out winner, who leads through fear, or we could hire a man of the people that motivate players and inspires fans by connecting to them on a human level.
Nagelsmann famously told Rapha Honigstein:
“Thirty percent of coaching is tactics, 70% social competence”
“Every player is motivated by different things and needs to be addressed accordingly. At this level, the quality of the players at your disposal will ensure that you play well within a good tactical set-up – if the psychological condition is right.”
The young prodigy was ironically mentored under Thomas Tuchel, a man famed for his football genius, not his people skills.
This is a comment from Antony Ujah comparing Tuchel to the new manager, Sandro Schwarz, at Mainz.
“Both are detail-obsessed and tactically very good, they do a lot of video analysis, so we need players to remember certain things, the difference is communication and human interaction.”
Ultimately, you can be a genius at extracting greatness from players on the pitch, but if you’re no good at the personal stuff, things break down very quickly. This was the commentary after his stint at Dortmund, his first major job.
“Even earlier, in January 2016, Tuchel had fallen out with head scout Sven Mislintat… being banished from Dortmund’s training facilities.
“More bridges were burned and the fall-out with the club and the fans continued. He already had parts of the team questioning him, when he hit out at Bayern-bound Hummels following his last match for BVB in the 2016 DFB Pokal final.”
“The coach also lost influential parts of Dortmund’s fan base. Jan-Henrik Gruszecki, notable fan and historian, told ESPN FC: “Tuchel never identified with the club.”
Even Mourinho admits his emotions have caused issues, and were something he tried to address.
“I believe that I am able to transmit this serenity to those who work with me, to my players. I have the same ambitions as before. The same involvement, the same professionalism, but I’m more in control of my emotions.”
His passion and inability to stay humble is why he rarely longers long than 3 seasons, but also maybe why he’s one of the most successful coaches in the world. He knows how to exract excellence for a short period of time before players and staff give into his social incompetence.
If you want to really nerd out, this quote takes you down an interesting rabbit hole from a football perspective.
“In 1988, Goleman analysed 188 global companies, where he tested and interviewed the star performers within them. He found that at managerial level, technical and cognitive skills were comparable, with emotional intelligence being the crucial factor that differentiated employee’s positions. Boyzatis, Goleman and Rhee (1999, p.3) define emotional intelligence as “When a person demonstrates the competencies that constitute self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and socials skills at appropriate times and ways in sufficient frequency to be effective in the situation.”
“It’s why a smart manager is gold in the game. Players usually turn into coaches. Most players are not taught to be real humans. They lack curiosity and don’t need social skills because they are fit, rich and good looking. Social skills are a rare commodity in football, so they are something our board should aspire to have in a new manager.”
That moves me to my point. The two supposed lead candidates for the role at Arsenal are Luis Enrique and Mikael Arteta. The exBarcelona coach famously offered to resign because he couldn’t get on with Leo Messi, there were also lots of reports that he never really bonded with the players. Then there’s Mikael, who some rave about, but quite a few people in the ranks at Arsenal do not speak of him in favourable terms. Apparently, he’s not a galvanising force, he’s outspoken, he lacks humility on quite a grand scale, can be immensely difficult and he’s seen as one of Ivan’s boys.
At a club that suffers divisions in the dressing room, do we not think the club should be considering someone a bit longer in the tooth? A little more mature? Or someone who has a less controversial reputation amongst players and staff? Or someone known in the game for having a world-class approach to culture?
Or, do we see the genius? He’s turning ok players into world-class operators. He’s captivated the City players, Pep G loves him, and City are winning.
The club might want a change of pace. Maybe we want to hire a ruthless manager to bring discipline and focus to the squad. Maybe a bit of ‘telling it like it is’ is what’s needed in a team that’s lacked direction and leadership over the last ten years.
If he has a streak in him, is that just par the course of absolute excellence? Is elite sport not a place for the nice guys?
Well, there are managers like Jurgen Klopp who operate on the other side of the fence. A man who leads through passion and love for his players. He’ll go to war for all his boys, and they die out on the pitch for him. He brings the fans together, the players and everyone loves him. I think Diego Simeone is another manager who has that sort of reputation for bringing players together, he operates a siege mentality and not many push to leave his nest despite massive riches on offer elsewhere. One of the most successful managers in the world, Carlo Ancelotti, is one of the nicest guys in the game. Players love him, a people’s man, and an absolute winner.
There are two sides to the argument, the question is, right now, what do Arsenal need with limited funds and a squad that sits out of the Champions League?
Matt Law is reporting that Arsenal are not in for Allegri and Sarri, weirdly because they won’t bring the stay away fans back to the club. Seems like an odd thing to say about a two managers that are best in class for sexy football, and tactically unreal football, battling it out in the most interesting Serie A in years.
Interestingly, he’s the first journo to talk about Leonardo Jardim, who should be the frontrunner for the Arsenal job. Interestingly, Marcelo Gallardo who is managing Club Atlético River Plate at the moment, is being linked with the Monaco job. Could Jardim be a backdoor signing? Or could Juve, PSG or Chelsea be up to some back door planning?
Anyway, point of this post is there are so many layers to this hire, and so many people to consider. The health of a football club goes beyond the 11 people that line up on the pitch. If the focal point of the club isn’t a brand fit, it can be horrendous.
The big question for Ivan is this: Who does he want Arsenal to be in a post-Wenger era?
We’ll find out in due course.
Right, see you in the comments.