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Football’s elite and the tactics of talent management

IbyIMD+Published 18 December 2022 in Magazine • 9 min read

Successful managers at the top level need a wide range of skills to lead teams both on and off the field. Renowned football writer Simon Kuper presents his best XI tips (plus a substitute) for thinking like a champion. 

Like leadership jobs in regular businesses, the football manager’s role has grown more complex over time. Tenures have shortened, staffing levels have mushroomed, and footballers, like younger employees everywhere, have gained power. Over the decades I’ve interviewed many football managers, read extensively about them, and tried to understand how the best ones handle these constraints. Here, I’ve distilled some of those leadership lessons.  

Hire the best specialists and delegate 

Until early this century, especially in Britain, the typical football manager was a solo leader. But since then he has lost power. Today, a manager might oversee dozens of staffers ranging from defensive coaches to physiotherapists to data analysts. Often a transfer committee handles recruitment. More and more, the manager’s job is to marshal a staff of specialists.  

Perhaps the supreme delegator is Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool. The German isn’t one of those managers who goes around sulking…

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