How to win: Lessons from the Premier League by the secret footballer
I have been a fan of the ‘secret footballer’, who many now suspect is Dave Kitson, since he started writing articles for the Guardian. Now four books later, I was delighted to be given this, his fifth in the series, to review.
In this book, the author is joined by the secret psychologist, who asks:
• What separates the good from truly great players?
• How do footballers' managers get the best out of their team?
• How do you come back from a crushing defeat to win?
Now the savvy reader among you might ask: what can the normal man or woman possibly learn from those who play in a league where money is everything and the average weekly wage has risen above £50,000 and is £2,642,508 a year.
Many professional footballers live a life of luxury that many could only dream of, but in their defence these professionals endure pressure most of us would wish to avoid. The secret footballer and his psychologist accomplice firmly believe it is how this pressure is managed that holds lessons for the rest of us.
The book is a narrative that darts about the career of the secret footballer highlighting how success is achieved, how disappointments are overcome and how a positive mental attitude can be maintained under the most difficult of circumstances.
The biggest thing I took away from this book was something I had always wondered about. How do you possibly enthuse and drive people who have it all? Put simply: how do you motivate a team of multi-millionaires?
The authors look at the master of football motivation, José Mourinho and specifically at his interaction with an underperforming mega star.
I would urge you all to take heed of what the Special One did, which is just as relevant in modern business as football. He uses a four-stage process we could all adopt with underperformers in our teams or even with ourselves:
• Imagination: is used to sell the vision of what you want achieved
• Illustration: is used to work with the player to show what needs to be done
• Participation: is vital as the player must contribute to their own success
• Integration: is used to show how success can be achieved
By now a thought may have entered your head: 'Do you have to like football to like this book?'
I would say yes. While this book can help anyone with sage and enjoyable advice, the anecdotes in the book that underpin this information, from both the anonymous footballer and psychologist, are predominantly football related. If you do not like football or are not familiar with the characters discussed, then you may find it hard to get into the book, which is well worth reading.
Published by Guardian Faber
John Joe McGinley is a principal of Glassagh Consulting