The wounded outgoing England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson has warned his replacement to stay at home and lock the door when not on the pitch. A leading psychologist this week set out a more practical plan for surviving the harshest spotlight in sport.
Ian Maynard, professor of sport psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, outlined the key attributes that the Football Association should look for when it appoints England’s manager.
The result is an Identikit manager who will excite football fantasists everywhere.
He must have the coping skills of former Arsenal manager George Graham, the empathy of Bolton Wanderers’ manager Sam Allardyce, the mental toughness of Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger, the communication and management skills of Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho and the positivity of Manchester City’s Stuart Pearce.
Professor Maynard is a member of the British Olympic Association’s Psychology Advisory Group. During the 2004 Athens Olympics, he worked with the medal-winning sailing, diving and boxing teams.
He said: “It is crucial that the new manager has both the tactical and the psychological skills to get the best from the team.
“This is arguably the most important job in English football and picking a candidate with the right psychological skills could mean the difference between success and failure for the English team.”
He said: “Mental toughness is a crucial attribute. This is a stressful role and the manager needs to think of pressure as a friend rather than an enemy.
“He will need to be committed, focused and highly driven in his pursuit of excellence.”
He added: “To function with this level of pressure he will need to have good coping skills. This means self-regulating his behaviour and dealing with pressure in a positive way so that the manager becomes a role model for the team, both on and off the field.”