|The Factors and Impact of Motivation/Getting Inside a Player’s Head|
written by Edmunds5 Monday, 24th Sep 2012 15:11
There have been a few blogs lately that concern the manager, the owner and the playing staff, which have also touched on other issues that are part of being a football fan, such as ticket prices, personal experiences and memories. There is not much I can personally add to these issues because I think recent blogs have really pinpointed the way in which the club has gone downhill over the years.
So I wanted to try and put a slightly different spin on things and focus on what I think is an important internal aspect right now. I am going to discuss the possible affects of man-management and motivation on professional footballers with regards to performance levels.
I intend not only to try and ‘get inside the head’ of players but also to analyse the influence a manager can have on players. This blog will feature some of my personal opinion but will often raise questions to get people thinking about it as I think it can be something we often see as a bit of a side issue.
As we all know, it has been a very difficult past couple of weeks for everyone associated with our beloved club, Ipswich Town.
The 2-0 defeat at home to Wolves followed by a capitulation against Charlton left many supporters angry and frustrated. With blue blood boiling through bodies, sites such as TWTD then give fans the opportunity to vent their frustration regarding the goings-on at the club.
Much of this, rightly or wrongly is vented at the manager, with various areas of the management being addressed. A word that crops up and in my opinion doesn’t crop up enough is the word motivate. In my opinion this is a massive factor towards success at a club but what is motivation? What does it entail? And how effective is it?
One of the most important factors when testing a manager’s credentials is their ability to motivate players, a long winded definition of the technical term ‘man-management’.
The manager may give a rousing half time team-talk if he feels the team’s performance is below par, the manager may be less ruthless and gently encourage his players to boost confidence levels for the second half. There may be various other techniques associated with motivating players whether that be positive or even negative reinforcement.
It does make me think though; do players really need this to improve performance? Yes, we all need a boost from time to time but after all they are professional footballers. Many who have a natural talent so surely despite a lack of in depth knowledge, they should use their will to win and passion to inspire them when things aren’t going to plan.
Everyone has good and bad days but I find it fascinating how players can pick up their performance levels through the toughness of other people. Should this be something that should become intrinsic through self talk? Or is it just the beauty of nature that another person can guide another human to improving their performance?
Of course, if the manager’s guidance is based on tactics, then it can improve the team, but in terms of motivation and mentality, why does faith from a manager seem to have a practical benefit and promote such an instant reaction?
I do think however, that being part of a team sport probably eases the pressure individually and doesn’t require the same level of mental strength as a tennis player for example and so level of performance can decrease radically.
I do believe there is more to it than this, and there are many other factors that I would question. For example, does a footballer work solely as an employee like any other profession or does a player judge a manager based on personality and approach?
Does the pressure of representing the fans, the management and his staff, the history, the greats that have lit up the pitch you now stand on override the personal relationship between a player and manager?
I mean if you don’t like somebody why would you give your all for them? If you don’t like a school teacher are you really going to sit in a class for an hour and obey them politely and get shed loads of quality work done and therefore get high grades, or are you going to switch off after five minutes and therefore write three lines the whole hour?
Perhaps you dislike his/her approach and so you’re not prepared to work as hard. An odd analogy maybe but we’ve seen this at Chelsea with Andre Villas-Boas and some of the senior players. Talk of laboured half time team-talks and fresh ideas left the squad unimpressed and reluctant to change their ways.
The unwillingness to adopt different ideas was clearly a massive factor towards poor performances and results with Villas-Boas hung out to dry and inevitably sacked.
This is maybe the reason most managers do have such a short-term impact, a fresh face and new ideas which seem to give players renewed energy and a sense of positivity.
They’re the same people though so why a sudden change in performance? Do players have preferences? Does being enthused or bored by the manager’s half-time speech affect how people will play first or second half?
Does a manager's tone of voice ring between both ears as the player steps back onto the pitch? Or is thinking in this manner to complex and players accept the words given and have learnt to respect the manager listen?.
Do things all just flow naturally on the pitch? The fact that you’re the footballer and that you’re the one who has the ability to score the goal or make the clearance that in effect could win you the game. Perhaps that’s the nature of football and that’s all it comes down to on the day.
The connection between players and manager is another intriguing point, certain managers and players seem to have genuine relationships.
Neil Warnock has signed Paddy Kenny for three different clubs, Sam Allardyce has signed Kevin Nolan for three different clubs also. So clearly, the ideas and personality a manager is something that many players consider when signing.
Another example of this being Paul Jewell's decision to sign Nathan Ellington and Jimmy Bullard, both players who helped Wigan gain promotion to the Premier League under Jewell. Both have failed to impress, so have these players taken advantage of the fact they know the manager and so put in less effort as a result?
Perhaps motivation is something that has to involve a consequential reward?, does a clause in a contract such as a pay rise or goal bonus increase a players appetite to play well? Disregarding the fact they want their team to push up the League.
What about the common scenario when a lower League side raises their game when they’re playing a Premier League side in the FA Cup but then lose 4-0 in a League game the following Saturday.
Why do players suddenly want to express themselves on a rare occasion but fail to get motivated once brought back to reality, therefore producing the inevitable half-hearted performance on a boggy, mud-filled pitch in Exeter?
Another point is attitude, a characteristic that seems to let many players down. I’m sure there are many players who have just as much football talent as those in leagues above them but do not have the medals to match because of their application.
Players like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Lionel Messi not only have terrific natural ability but also seem to love playing football and never seem to throw their toys out of the pram.
Their modest, honest approach is something many footballers should aspire to, not just the aesthetically pleasing side of the game because that alone does not guarantee you success as a player.
So where does this fit in with Ipswich? Well the first point I would make is the motivation Paul Jewell has to succeed, he got Bradford and Wigan promoted a long time ago so does Jewell really have the motivation to achieve at Ipswich?
After all Jewell has no connection with Ipswich like supporters have with the club. Jewell didn’t feel the elation every Ipswich fan did when Martijn Reuser sealed a 4-2 play off final victory over Barnsley at Wembley. Likewise Jewell didn’t feel the sadness of being relegated from the Premier League after a 5-0 drubbing at Liverpool.
If the manager doesn’t have a genuine connection with the club then of course the manager can rely on his own drive and hunger to succeed. I’m just not sure these characteristics are part of Jewell’s make up, he never sounds particularly aggressive or sincere after defeats.
The fact Ipswich surrendered points in the second half of games also questions Jewell’s half time team talks and elements of it. Not only does it suggest a lack of tactical prowess and an obvious inability to translate what is happening on the pitch into the dressing room. It also suggests that despite many humorous comments to the media Jewell is arguably not the most charismatic or infectious character within the club.
It also raises the question; does Jewell raise his voice enough and demand performances of players? Well, he certainly doesn’t strike me as someone with a particularly fiery temper or the kind of manager who would keep his players in the dressing for a couple of hours after a game.
Do the players feel they need more of a voice to get them psyched up for the second half of matches? So that they can then transfer that inner anger to the pitch and use the opposition as the victim.
Maybe some players need to be spoken to individually so that they can put things right second half, which we do not know if Jewell does too much of an extent.
As for the players themselves where does their motivation stem from? None of the players have any real connection to the club either besides some younger players who are still learning their trade.
Others have arguably played for bigger clubs previous to Ipswich. For example, Michael Chopra at Sunderland and Newcastle, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas at Arsenal even Luke Chambers at Nottingham Forest. So perhaps these players do not see Ipswich in that bracket and feel that they are forgiven when they don’t perform because of the family nature of the club.
The fact players respond angrily to criticism makes me question the attitude of some players, fans seem to enjoy a genuine connection with players, whilst players seem to act as individuals and seem to think they are immune to criticism.
Perhaps if the players had even 10% of the love fans have for a club then maybe we would see a bit of a difference on the pitch though I understand not all players are like this.
There is also the issue of wages. Players maybe get paid such riches that performing on a Saturday isn’t such a big deal. The immediate disappointment of losing a game can quickly be put to bed by investing money on a nice Ferrari, or two.
Perhaps a harsh, slightly ignorant comment but one that speaks truth about the freedom players has nowadays. Their never seems to be many one club players these days, no loyal servants.
For me the mentality has to change, the players in my opinion have to try and see the clubs current situation as a challenge and relish it and Jewell has to try and orchestrate this.
I believe that if Ipswich players want to be top footballers they have battle against where we are and not just see it as a demoralising experience because playing for Ipswich Town, even at the lowest ebb which is perhaps now, should never be this way.
Thanks for listening and I hope you've enjoyed the read, comments would be much appreciated.
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