I don’t follow basketball but really enjoyed The Last Dance, the Netflix documentary about Michael Jordan’s time with the Chicago Bulls.
If you haven’t seen it, I would definitely recommend this story of a brilliant sportsman who set such high standards for himself and his team mates.
It’s also about what’s needed in a winning team. Individual sports will be completely different because Tiger Woods, Lewis Hamilton or Roger Federer only have to worry about their own performance.
In team sports it’s about having the right blend. Certainly in football you need some experienced players, some quick lads with energy, some leaders….the right mixture to be successful.
You also want players setting high standards and that was certainly the case with Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. He was the richest, most talented guy in the team but he worked just as hard as everyone else.
It was never a case of him not putting the effort in and just telling them to give him the ball and he’d do the rest.
He worked incredibly hard – and demanded the same from everyone else.
People like that set the standard. It’s just the same in football teams, whatever division you are in.
When I started at Crewe, I had lads like Lee Matthews, Kenny Lunt and Lee Bell helping me but also demanding high standards in training every day.
Kenny Lunt was like that all the time in training – ‘Give me the ball, move away, come here..’
I had just signed for a pro club, was nervous and trying to bed in. You feel as though you don’t fit in but got up to standard by learning fast what was expected of me.
Having very demanding people around me was good for me. I am not saying everyone is the same but it helped me. It made me understand the standards that were needed to be a professional.
Then I moved to Rotherham and had Kevin Ellison who was on to everyone, every day.
Of course managers are also very demanding of you and that can make the dressing room an uncomfortable place at half time if things aren’t going well.
People like Micky Adams, Ronnie Moore or Neil Baker, who was assistant at Crewe, would let you know in no uncertain terms if they are not happy.
Players will have a go at each other as well and it’s not personal. Everybody can have a bad game.
But if people are pulling out of tackles, not trying or allowing someone to bully them on the pitch, that’s when it gets under your skin.