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Power of Motivation
Written by LegendRay on Tuesday, 27th Apr 2021 16:03

The strangest and most disappointing aspect of this season has been lack of bounce.

Not lack of bounce in the players, though this is certainly been evident, nor the absence of that oft-quoted reaction, ‘we’ve got to bounce back from that result’.

The biggest puzzle has been lack of any positive bounce from those usual suspects: the change of manager and/or change of owners. We have had both, but the only bounce has been a ‘dead cat bounce’.

Before the longed-for changes happened, we had struggled to a three-match winning run and the illusion of hope lead us to believe that an easier run-in than all the other play off contenders would work in our favour!

As John Cleese said in the film <i>Clockwise</i>, "It's not the despair that gets to me, it's the hope that really hurts."

Clearly something is working behind the scenes, and behind all the public statements and despite all the tangible changes to finances and structures.

Could it be that intangible factor of motivation, positive motivation and negative motivation? These can be bigger than any other factors as history has proved.

Having supported the Town from birth in Ipswich, and from 1956 at Portman Road, I can recall some examples.

The legendary Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson (after the initial battles) seemed to instil positive motivation in their teams and got more from them than any individual player ever dreamed they could achieve. They developed their skills, encouraged and congratulated them and made them feel like world-beaters.

Jackie Milburn followed Ramsey and showed the extreme of positive motivation, being ‘one of the lads’, joining them in the pub with the inevitable results, and then the inevitable hard man Bill McGarry coming in to repair the damage and get us promoted. The self-fulfilling circle of too-matey management followed by no-mates discipline.

From what Paul Lambert said in public - "we were brilliant" - he seemed to be a positive motivator and the players liked it (and became comfortable). The promising starts to the season showed the benefit, but the bubble burst with the absence of Plan B and the challenge of balancing positive motivation with discipline when it was needed

There have been examples of negative motivators who offer criticism first, telling the players they’re not good enough as a way of trying to improve them. Roy Keane seemed one of those, as did Paul Hurst, and more likely his assistant Chris Doig.

At that time legend has it that the senior players resisted and rejected negative motivation, went to see the owner, and got Hurst and his team sacked.

Did the same thing happen later with Lambert as the positive motivation soured? Or was it the owner/manager motivation that collapsed? The ex-owner’s hands-off management left a void for player power to step in and wield their power, which has now vanished. Is this where the motivation went too? Confidence and positivity leaking away just when a push for promotion had some momentum?

After a season like that, the usual cry is for new owner and/or manager. Hold on a moment! We have a lot of positive motivation from Paul Cook about the future, but not about his current players, he has quickly turned into the most negative motivator that we've seen, attacking players publicly. We are transferring our hope into a summer clear-out and him buying time to prove or disprove himself with his own squad.

We have loads of positive motivation from the new owners in their public statements - how long can their enthusiasm about the Ipswich of the past survive disappointment and loss of money in the Ipswich of the present? It’s high stakes and very high risk and opportunity.

Amidst the unknowns, one certainty is that our past successes have been built on positive motivation running throughout the club, the owners, the manager, his staff, the administration behind the scenes, the players. The supporters have it, as well as hope, and are just waiting to be mirrored and fired up. Their resilience and patience deserves some reward.

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Chaz26 added 18:04 - Apr 27
I enjoyed the read - thank you LegendRay. I like your comparison of the positive/negative aspects of the managerial style of our Managers. At the moment, I feel very uncomfortable reading the negative comments from Paul Cook both pre and post match and he has gone unrelentlessly into the negative motivator strategy category. I believe this is very high risk but am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and await like all of us for a consistently improved performance from the team.

LegendRay added 22:53 - Apr 27
Thanks Chaz. Would be interesting exercise to categorise all itfc managers to see who was primarily a 'carrot' manager and who was primarily a 'stick' man!! Of course success lies in recognising your primary style of motivation,
and being able to adopt other styles to fit the situation and the person. Now that Town are into science and analysis (!!), there's more on motivation styles here.

earlsgreenblue added 09:55 - Apr 28
A very interesting read, I wonder if looking back in to the style of PC in his last couple of appointments might give some more insight into a reason for the current model?
It’s almost, (tongue in cheek) like he wants to start with a new team of his own in this league, carry the momentum up into the Championship etc. Rather than a mixed bag, just scraping a promotion, & only just surviving the following onslaught, stuttering & falling again!

ElephantintheRoom added 15:48 - Apr 28
Good read. You forgot to mention John Lyall who took on John Duncan's team and turned bsaically the same set of players into champions. And George Burley who transformed a team capable of almost qualifying for the champions league into one on the fast track for division three - both startling transformations within just over a year. Personally I think Cook is completely useless and angling for a pay off - I dont think I've ever seen a less impressive managerial performance at Portman Road. Time will tell

El_Fenix added 20:57 - Apr 29
In my opinion, the lack of bounce is attributable to the club culture and a lack of team chemistry. The club culture was defined by the circumstance of having an almost-absentee owner who retained the final say over many operational decisions. This combination of circumstances put managers in a very difficult position. Mick McCarthy operated within the constraints somewhat effectively, for a while, and his teams seemed to maintain a proper-blokes-against-the-world team chemistry. Since McCarthy left there has been no discernible team chemistry, just a malaise that was punctuated by individual efforts that died on the vine. Paul Cook had no chance of fixing the club culture and the team chemistry in two months. The change of ownership is what provides a realistic hope that a new era will dawn on May 10th.

LegendRay added 12:27 - Apr 30
Useful thoughts and additions, thanks. Yes I think the list of positive motivators would include Lyall, Burley (until 2001), and Joe Royle.
And interesting to consider the positive motivation from the relationship between owner/Chairman and manager. As stated, having a Chairman not close enough to the Club but wanting to control decisions can have as much impact as the financial issues. Best practice is for Chairman to be close enough to Club to nurture culture, but to give space (and time) to the manager to do their job. The Cobbolds (John and Patrick), Sheepshanks and, to an extent, Kerr understood that. When that chemistry is positive it permeates all parts of the club, inc the players - and the reverse is of course true too!

jas1972 added 16:08 - Apr 30
Just to throw an additional factor into the mix, while Bobby Robson was indeed a great 'carrot' man, his success was greatly helped and complemented by having a very definite 'stick' man in Bobby Ferguson - a winning combination of excellent man manager and excellent coach/tactician. Arguably neither was as effective when entirely on their own - that was certainly true when Bobby Ferguson took over as manager, as the players who had been 'beaten up' by Ferguson as a coach had nowhere to go for comfort,

kaptinkaos added 12:22 - May 1
Good points well made. What I can`t understand about the squad at present, is that Paul Cook has made several references about player performances, and with so many players out of contract very soon, surely they would`ve listened to what he said, maybe even had a meeting together, and had a collective epiphany and pulled their fingers out, if not for the good of the club, but for their own benefit, but no, they carry on seemingly blaming everyone except themselves. Do they really think that with performances such as those dished up over the last couple of years, other clubs will be queuing up for their signatures?
At best these players all these players can only hope for non-league in the future, if they`re lucky. Some will undoubtedly be finished, plus the new players coming in will be able to negotiate great deals in order to get them here. Past glories, club history, and copious amounts of white wine in the boardroom count for nothing. From day one next season, everybody will be under the microscope, no more excuses, no past to fall back on, it`s all systems go from the time the final whistle blows to end this debacle of a season, and looking forward only. Paul Cook has my admiration and my sympathy.

Dissboyitfc added 06:21 - May 2
Great post! The thing here is not a one size fits all, good man management requires variation in approach to each individual, some may need a kick up the bum, some may need an encouraging cuddle and some need to hear what they want to hear. The old saying goes, " different strokes for different folks".

PC has a massive job on his hands, we enter a very high risk period in the history of ITFC, i hope it pays off! One thing is for sure its gonna go well or get even messier, i keep thinking all the time, it cant get any worse! tbh i just dont know any more, after all where was the new manager bounce?

LegendRay added 13:31 - May 10
Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Very interesting how the hard man/soft man combinations work and why the assistant then so rarely succeeds after the top man leaves. The exception was the Liverpool 'boot room' series of managers that won so many trophies through 60s, 70s and 80s; but then look at the problems Man U had finding a successor to Matt Busby or Alex Ferguson. I did have a conversation with Bobby Ferguson about 10 years ago - he thought he could have carried on the success of SBR but was still bitter about how the great 1981 team broke up by being sold against his wishes.
Perhaps we'll see a 'delayed accumulator bounce' effect! (too long delayed!). Bounce for new Manager, new Owners, new squad, AND new season! We had the Sept bounce in last two seasons, hopefully again but this time sustained for the Spring!

bluesman added 06:40 - May 23
You are right. Ipswich had a long and distinguished history of fair and positive management which has been reflected by our playing style. At present it lingers only in the fans’ attitudes and expectations and it may yet be only the fans that will keep this a great and special club. I don’t see us reflected in what Cook has done so far. It is not our style, although of course it is typical of us to say well, wait and see, give the man a chance... Conduct matters to us, on and off the field, and owners and managers will ignore that at their peril.
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