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"God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast and when I run, I feel his pleasure."

Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire

How to be a football manager

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Ian Holloway London, Headline, 2022 ISBN 9781472298591

Michael Calvin in his book on football management, Living on the Volcano, refers to Ian Holloway having moved house 32 times during his career in football! Holloway’s book is informative and very readable, with chapters on dealing with players, referees, the chairman, supporters etc. The book is half autobiography and half advice for the would be football manager. It is also a book of brilliant stories and illustrations from his own life.

Early on in the book he sets out his principles: “The most important thing in management is to have good people around you and in order to do that you need great connections”. He illustrates this by suggesting that the reason that Frank Lampard failed at Chelsea was that it did come too early in his career, before he had got the connections.

He develops the importance of recruitment of players, having “a scouting network of people who know exactly what you’re looking for in a player”. What he is looking for a player goes beyond ability to encompass character and a willingness to buy into the club and team philosophy. Even then his aim is to “to make them better people as well as better players”.

Writing about the role of the chairman, he stresses the importance of the chairman not getting close to any of the players because ultimately the chairman is the player’s employer. A close relationship between the chairman and a player not only undermines the manager but makes it difficult for the chairman to take a decision to move the player on.

One of the challenges for a football manager, particularly in the premier league, is to have a squad of 30 players often only 11 can start. Holloway sums it up: “Football isn’t about fairness in getting in the team isn’t about whether you deserve that are not – it’s about what the manager thinks”.

I particularly enjoyed his chapter on how to coach strikers and was amused by the chapter on the post much managers’ glass of wine.

A very readable, informative and enjoyable book

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