LMA Diploma in Football Management

Speaking to the League Managers Association students starting their one year course, LMA Diploma in Football Management, at the University of Liverpool in London, allowed me the opportunity to share with the 37 present my experiences in football management.

Having qualified from the original format of the course headed up by Dr. Sue Bridgewater at Warwick University in 2008, I already had an understanding of what the students were about to embark on. Deadlines to get assignments in was always an issue for the course delegates as they also had full time and demanding jobs to do.

The students included Managers in the Football League, presently in a job and those out of work and utilising their time by continuing to learn by being on the course. CPD, continuous professional development, is a given for all aspiring leaders so they can stay at the forefront of the game, move with the times and be stimulated by the new things and the networking opportunities to flourish.

Along with 1st team Managers we had an audience that included ex football players, Academy Managers, Heads of Coaching and Managers within the up and coming Womans game.

I started my talk with a video. It showed a famous manager standing on the side of a pitch and the crowd shouting at him "You're getting sacked in the morning" A common occurrence now. I followed this up with the latest stats provide by the LMA as to manager sackings last season. 44 Managers lost their jobs in the 2016-2017 season. Combine this with the members of staff that would have also left with the Manager, for example assistant manager, goalkeeper coach and fitness coach you can see its a high turn over. I also highlighted how long managers are in employment and how long they are out of work on average before getting another job. Thats if they get another job. 55% of 1st time managers never get another chance.

The 1 hour and 20 minute presentation was interactive as I was able to engage with the students relating stories from my career as a player. 336 games, several injuries. As a physiotherapist 557 games and of course as a manager of 574 games with several promotions. Mine has been a career that started as a schoolboy at Liverpool FC. Managing Renbad Rovers in the Birkenhead Sunday League. It provided 10 years experience of making decisions, picking teams, tactics, formations and substitutions. Invaluable experience when you look back. Then to educating myself with qualifications. Building relationships, very important ones, for example the early Chairman I worked for, Gwyn Pierce Owen, the world famous referee at Bangor City and the honourable Mr.Wharton at Scunthorpe United.

Philosophies of buying young hungry players and developing them to sell for a profit and developing your own home grown talent, making sure there was a pathway for them became a common theme as I progressed through my talk. At Scunthorpe, Sharp, Koegh, Paterson, Hooper, Sparrow. At Southampton notable names included, Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Ward-Prowse, Shaw, Schniderlin, Lallana. At Reading we had 9 academy players who made debuts in the Championship, Michael Hector was later sold to Chelsea. At Sheffield United young Dominic Calvert-Lewin who was later sold to Everton, scored the winning goal for England in the U20 World Cup Final 2017. 

Taking over at a new club, the importance of good senior players and staff. At Southampton we had excellent senior players and staff. I highlighted my assistant manager Andy Crosby and how important it is to have someone you can trust and have an honest conversation with. It's of no benefit having someone who will agree with you all the time. 

The topic of club ownership, different nationalities, cultures, changing plans, changing ownerships, shared ownerships, being on the the verge of administration and the many challenges dealing with all the stakeholders that are involved in football.

From managing in the Birkenhead Sunday League to managing in the Premier League and all the expectations that go with it. An insight I was pleased to share with the students of the LMA Diploma in Football Management.