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Not seen this on here anywhere....
Sam Allardyce exclusive: Team spirit was worse than rock bottom ... now we're rock solid
By Sam Allardyce 11/1/13
I saw what Joe Cole had to say following his first game back home at West Ham and what caught my eye were his compliments about our team spirit.
Team spirit is terrifically important but really difficult to define.
It took me many years to convince sports psychologists there was such a thing as ‘team spirit’. In their intellectual world, it was difficult for some of them to accept because there is no tried-and-tested formula — no scientific proof.
As anyone who has participated in team sport knows, spirit within any squad is intangible — it’s a gut feeling you have that everyone is moving in the same direction.
It’s togetherness, it’s good humour, it’s being able to criticise each other without anyone taking it the wrong way and, ultimately, it’s the ingredient which can help earn results beyond which your squad thought possible.
Team spirit can give you that bit extra and when I became a manager I promised myself I would strive to create that positive atmosphere, that good working environment and impress upon the players how important it was to foster that spirit among themselves.
I’ve been in some good dressing rooms and some bad ones, where you don’t feel like getting out of bed and when you do drag yourself into training, your aim is to get finished and go back home as quickly as you can. Team spirit is tested when the results are not coming. When I came to West Ham, for example, I saw immediately that morale wasn’t at rock bottom — it was worse than that.
The feeling all around the place was one of negativity. Apart from the players, the staff were also concerned about their futures because of the cuts which came on the back of relegation and that made them tentative.
We had to bring a stability first and once that was achieved, people began to feel more comfortable and you could get more out of them.
Getting through that period was difficult but no surprise. It is obviously going to be like that because of what had gone before — the devastation of relegation.
I needed to know which players wanted to stay here and fight for the cause and one who stood out was Carlton Cole. He had an opportunity to remain in the Premier League and move to Stoke but he wanted to stay at West Ham. He was a beacon for me when others wanted to leave. You can still achieve if the players are good enough — even if the spirit isn’t what it should be — but you can win so much more if the atmosphere is good.
That togetherness should also apply to me, the coaches and the rest of the staff. We celebrate a goal on the touchline because we’re all in it together. The players take their delight from the way they perform and we take our delight from watching them do well.
There’s nothing wrong with showing your emotions. Sometimes, as a manager, you have to suppress them but I’m not so sure you should. It’s an emotional game. It’s like telling a player to control themselves when they score. Often, it’s a waste of time because emotion just takes over.
I learned valuable lessons about team spirit as a player when I moved to Preston. I had expected to end my career at Bolton but things didn’t work out well with the manager, Phil Neal, and he bombed me out.
So I went to Preston and encountered this massively confident, strong manager in John McGrath. He had this ability to see the less than committed. He used to say: “When you’re tending your lawn, you have to feed it and
nurture it carefully because, if you don’t, the weeds begin to grow and before you know it, they take over.”
He was relentlessly positive. They had just laid a plastic pitch at Preston and we moaned about it but all he would say is: “What a brilliant surface. This will improve your touch and passing ability no end.” He never allowed us to make excuses and — in the end — we finished second in the table on 96 points.
He was great at seeking any advantage. He’d put a big bottle of antiseptic in the opposition dressing room with a label on it which read, ‘for burns’.
He would invite the opposition to train on the pitch the night before. They thought he was doing them a favour but what they didn’t realise was that you used your muscles in a different way on plastic until you became used to it so they were waking up with aching legs on the morning of the game.
- I am glad my legal case involving Steve Kean and Blackburn has been settled. I will be donating some of the damages awarded to me to charity.
A fabulous goal but was it a sweet inter-passing movement? Was it heck
It will be good to be alongside Martin O’Neill in our respective technical areas tomorrow at the Stadium of Light. Martin is rightly lauded as a very good manager but he, like me, is a pragmatist.
He wants to win every match and, if that means playing it quickly up to the front man, that’s what he tells his teams to do.
Manchester United’s equaliser against us was a fabulous goal — but was it a sweet inter-passing movement? Was it heck. It was a sublime long ball — sorry, pass — from Ryan Giggs and some exceptional skills from Robin van Persie (above, second image).
Sometimes these days, it seems more important to have 30 passes of the ball than to win a game of football.
There is a recent statistic about the Premier League club who have played the most long balls up to now. Newcastle are top, we’re fourth and Sunderland fifth. Mick McCarthy, in the recent League Managers’ Association magazine, sums it up well.
He writes: “There is no other agenda for a manager other than winning football matches.
“Behind that, it might be ‘build a good squad and develop the academy’ but fundamentally it’s about winning games.”
There’s no room, Becks
It was good to see that David Beckham and his boys were at our game against Manchester United last weekend, although I didn’t get the chance to meet him.
He won’t be coming to West Ham but I’m not surprised he has had 12 offers to carry on playing.
Perhaps he is still waiting for the right one — I don’t know — but I see him as a central midfielder now. It’s one area where we are well covered and I don’t intend to go for any central midfield players in this window as we have Alou Diarra, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan, Jack Collison and Gary O’Neil. We need to strengthen in other areas.
There is no doubt David could still do the job in a three-man midfield but it is about priorities. We need to spend the money elsewhere, which is why we’re not in a position to try for him.
Sam Allardyce’s fee for his column will be donated to the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK. For more information on the Fund, go to bobbymoorefund.cancerresearchuk.org
2 posts • Page 1 of 1
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