Build unshakeable team spirit
CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY"The words you use are very important so choose them carefully. Players need to feel special, valued and respected. Take the time to talk to them one-on-one and then address the squad as a whole. Use positive language to get your instructions across, and make sure everyone understands their job and feels confident about doing it. Give the players licence to express themselves within the framework of the team’s tactics."
DON’T POINT THE FINGER AT YOUR PLAYERS"I don’t believe in having a blame culture. Pick out the details of a bad result and move on very, very quickly. There’s no point analysing a poor performance to the nth degree. My ethos is very much ‘live in the moment’. Try to do the best you can in the next training session or the next game. Whether you’re coming off the back of a good or bad result, leave it behind."
CREATE A WINNING ENVIRONMENT"You can’t just turn around and tell a player, ‘Go and enjoy the game’ – you have to create an environment where they’re comfortable and relaxed. Give the players everything they need to improve and they will enjoy their work. Collectively, they will want to better themselves and they will have fun doing it. At Reading I’ve tried to create a calm and open atmosphere. It’s up to the players to put the work in; you just have to give them the tools."
GET THE SENIOR PLAYERS ONSIDE"Any football team is only as good as its senior players. When you’ve got fantastic seniors, they lead the group. They know what is expected of them and they know how to win games. Having them behind you is crucial to team spirit. I don’t think it’s something you can contrive by setting up a night out for everyone to bond – that happens over time with all successful groups."
MAKE EVERYONE FEEL IMPORTANT
"The players who are not in the team are, to some extent, more important than the players who are in it. At some point you’re going to need them to be right, physically and mentally, so you have to give every player individual attention. Create an atmosphere where every player – especially the ones who aren’t in the team – feel they are part of it. When we got promotion to the Premier League, every single one of the players and staff were in the dressing room."