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The business of football
The business of football

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5.1 Players and managers making sense of teams

The following BBC radio extracts and video consider two leading managers’ and players’ perspectives of team success, or lack of it. Using their thoughts as a stimulus we hope that an incremental blend of ideas of what shapes effective teams should emerge.

Activity 6 Making sense of effective teams

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

First listen to extracts from a BBC interview, from the series, The Managers (2014), with Pia Sundhage (gold medal winning women’s national coach). Then listen to Jurgen Klinsmann (national coach for Germany and the USA at successive World Cups) from the same The Managers (2014) series. Finally, watch the video with players from Chesterfield and MK Dons who talk about what they call ‘team spirit’. Combine these views with your own experience to develop a list of factors that help explain what shapes effective teams. Listen out for the differences between a manager’s and players’ views

A photograph of Pia Sundhage.
Figure 8 Pia Sundhage
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The Managers 1
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Pia Sundhage is one of the world’s top women’s coaches having led Team USA to two consecutive Olympic gold medals before moving on to coach Sweden and then Brazil. Note down what you learn about how she managed the severe discord in the US team when she took over in 2007 (early in the clip) and the way she develops and uses ‘team goals’ (second half of the clip). Note that when she mentions ‘the role’ and ‘respect’ for it, she is talking about an important aspect of team effectiveness – clarity of team roles. The transcript may be useful to you here.

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The Managers 2
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Jurgen Klinsmann talks more about players taking responsibility making interesting comparisons between football and American team sports such as baseball, basketball and the NFL. Interestingly he also mentions conflicts within teams.

Now watch the video.

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Team spirit
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Listen to how their understanding of team work is different to a manager. But also note down the factors, represented by key words or phrases, these players identify as helping explain team success or lack of it.

Where possible try and quote phrases or key words from the video and audio pieces and also consider your own examples of ineffective football teams.

We can learn a lot from unsuccessful teams, indeed, as much as from successful teams. The fascinating accounts of players and a manager, as you would expect, differ considerably in the depth of their analysis. There might also be potential differences between club and national teams.

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