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Archive for September 2010

Book Review: Will You Manage?

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010 by Paul Grech

Will You Manage?: The Necessary Skills to be a Top Gaffer by Musa Okwonga

Everyone thinks he's a coach these days. There's no way you can watch a game without coming across someone overly eager to instruct the manager what he should do and tell all those who will listen that he got hs tactics wrong. Opinions that are too often shaped by something as flimsy as playing a management simulation game.

Managing a football club is, in reality, much more complex and difficult than is widely believed especially if you want to be succesful as well. It is not simply a case of having the best players but rather one of getting the players that you have to play as well (and more) as they possibly can. And that's only a starting point.

The truth is that management is quite a tough job and showing this lies at the heart of Musa Okwonga's book 'Will You Manage?". It is the result of a personal journey that started when he found himself wondering whether he could do a better job than Arsene Wenger (haven't we all?) and the stunted perception of management that exists which is based on what is seen during games.

Somewhere along the line, and most probably brought about by the proliferation of management simulation games where anyone can ultimately be successful (and usually is, thanks also to the ability to save and reboot games if results don't go your way), that has been lost and instead replaced by the belief that it is an easy task which anyone can do.

Those who have read Okwonga's previous book, 'A Cultured Left Foot', will be familiar with his style seeing that he replicates what he did there. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular component that is vital for the object of his attention: physical and technical in his previous work, mental and tactical in this. As an approach, it is quite effective as it breaks down the complexity that is football management into bite size thoughts that can easily be absorbed and understood.

Although a skilled writter (Okwonga also has something of a reputation for his poetry), he doesn't rely exclusively on his own thoughts to argue his way through. Indeed, it could be said that the whole book is built around thoughts and ideas that Okwonga has managed to gather. Some of these - largely those that come from the heavy hitters in the management world - are obtained through articles or biographies, others by talking to those concerned.

That most of his interviews are with people who aren't exactly household names (the non-league specialist George Borg is perhaps the most typical example) could make this book look like a second rate piece of work yet, in truth, they work really well as they add depth along with genuine insight into the world of football managers.

And that is effectively what 'Will You Manage' is all about. It does not have the pretentions of being as detailed and technical as John Wilson's bible that is 'Inverting the Pyramid' but it does shed more light into football management and breaks the illusion that this is an easy job that turns around buying the right players and chosing the correct eleven to play each weekend.

Note: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.