‘He tried to sign me’ – A little bit from Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Stoke City greats to build the perfect manager



Last week’s column was about building the perfect footballer, so this week I’m trying to build the perfect manager with the various elements needed and those I believe fit the bill the best in those various categories.

So in the first of two parts, here goes…

INTELLIGENCE

(Bill Shankly)

Think about Shankly and you think about passion, but he was more than just that because he was a visionary who laid the foundations for Liverpool Football Club.

He sowed the seeds that eventually grew into the oak tree we see today. He gave his players great belief in him and in themselves, so they feared no-one, and so began a dynasty there.

He lived just round the corner from the Everton training ground and when I was a player there you’d sometimes see him pop in for a chat because he was such a great football man. Can you imagine Klopp doing that?

PSYCHOLOGIST

(Brian Clough)

Cloughie was a great psychologist who played mind games with players, press and directors.

He had the ability to get into the heads of his players to turn ordinary players into very good players and very good players into great players.

He could convince them to play out of their comfort zone, too, and I remember John O’Hare going from striker to central midfielder for a cup win at Leeds.

His teams played with great organisation, discipline, belief and, of course, success.

If there’s one manager I’d love to have played for and never got the chance, then it is Brian Clough, though we very nearly did team up when he offered £400,000 for me in 1973 and our secretary drew up the papers.

That’s how close it got, but Stoke eventually said no.

SPEECH MAKER

(Tony Waddington)

Managers often need the gift of the gab and that’s what Waddo had.

He wasn’t a coach – in fact I don’t ever remember seeing him in a tracksuit – but he was a great man manager who usually knew what to say and when to say it.

He could be a cool, calm and collected figure to control fiery characters like Clamp, Setters, Vernon and Palmer in his early days.

He had the skill and words to entice big players to Stoke like Sir Stan and Peter Dobing, plus World Cup winners Gordon Banks, George Eastham and Geoff Hurst.

But he could also bring through homegrown youngsters which eventually included myself and the rest of the 1972 back four in Jackie Marsh, Denis Smith and Alan Bloor.

He was manager when we won that League Cup at Wembley that year, our first major trophy, and taking us into Europe was also a magnificent achievement.

RESPECT

(Sir Alf Ramsey)

Respecting a manager is so important and how could you not respect someone who had captained and managed his country, taken Ipswich to the league title and, in 1966, won the ultimate prize with England?

He conducted himself with a grace and spoke with a well-mannered softness, but when he spoke you listened. He was a deep thinker on the game, the man who won the World Cup with the wingless wonders, and he didn’t mind mucking in by taking the under-23s and B teams as well as the senior England side.

And whether you were Bobby Moore or a newcomer to the squad like myself, he spoke to you just the same, and expected you to simply call him Alf.

What a privilege for me to be handed eight under-23 caps by the great man and my senior debut against Portugal.

If you gave him what he wanted he would trust you as a player and whenever you left the England camp to return to your club, he would leave you with a comment, something tactical or technical, something to work on because he was always trying to improve you.

Not a bad start, eh?

Next week I will look at man management, conducting, courage, passion and the professor. If there ever was a man to combine them all, they would win everything.





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