What does it take to win?

So this week, I looked at research on what is needed to win.

Bit vague and generic, but not win a game of football or monopoly or twister but win at life. Assessing, how you can take things away from sports etc and how they win and apply them to life. Simple, yeah?

So here is what I have learnt, 5 tips to win!

Set specific goals: Without specific goals, how will you know when you’ve won? It could be something like, get a job, buy your parents a meal, get a puppy or get a degree. These goals should have follow up goals too, what will happen when you have achieved the first goals? Then the next and so on! But you will be more motivated with something to work towards. Your goal, should have a dream at the end of it, but an achievable dream not be a Disney princess or David Beckham.

Accept failure: Learning is a key process of winning. Winning won’t happen without failure, just simple, it won’t. Failing doesn’t mean the goal ends however, failing means you accept you are on a journey. Take baking for example, can you bake a cake by throwing everything into a bowl? Daft question. But there is a process, stages and steps. While baking, you may fail, just look at Bake Off! But Each stage gets you to where you need to be, a perfectly made (flavour of your choice) cake.

Work harder, focus more and be more committed: It’s not just gonna happen, you have to understand that winning needs specific skills, that we all have. Whether it’s reading for a test (which I am personally rubbish at), sat in the library researching (better at) or running in the gym (which I could do if I wanted too…). We accept what happens to us, but why should we just accept? By accepting, we stop working, focusing and committing.

Believe you can win: Without thinking you can win, you’ll never win. Develop a habit of winning, small victories, even if it’s getting to work on time or cooking dinner, they are small victories of being alive. Believing that you can win, means you have a 99% chance of doing so, you just need that final 1% to win and that comes down to the specific-ness of your goal.

Whilst writing this up, I realised all of these things, I did when I was diagnosed with depression. I had a goal of wanting to be off the tablets within 2 years, I accepted that there would be bumps and failures but learnt from them, I focussed on what I could do to get better and I believed I could do it. 18 months I was on them, 6 months early!

I won.


Manchester City, money well spent or spending for the sake of it?

This week, I made a visit to the Etihad Stadium for Stadium and City Football Academy (CFA) Tour. The main aim for this was to gain a personal insight to the club ahead of my dissertation based around the City Football Group. It did not disappoint, the facilities are jaw dropping, millions spent (will go into more detail throughout) but they seem humble about it however.

In terms of leadership and teams, the visit to the changing rooms was the biggest lesson to learn. Current Manager, Pep Guardiola has revamped the changing rooms, quotes all around the place to inspire the players. However, Pep has also changed other features. The CFA has a hotel on site for staff and players and the night before games, they stay at the CFA they then play the match and then stay the night after the match too. So for example, this week:

Friday 20th October- Stay at CFA
Saturday 21st October vs Burnley- Stay at CFA
Sunday 22nd October- Stay at home (if they live in a house and not on sight)
Monday 23rd October- Stay at CFA
Tuesday 24th October vs Wolves game finished at 11pm- Stay at CFA
Wednesday 25th October (day I visited)- trained, commercial duties then return home
Thursday 26th October- Stay at home
Friday 27th October- Stay at CFA
Saturday 28th October vs West Brom- Stay at CFA

The reason for this is that they can eat together before a match, eat together after a match, staff can be there for players if they have questions and attempt to create a togetherness. Encouraging Manchester culture too is important to Pep, with the club signing a deal with poet Tony Walsh to include quotes, which is particular poignant since this summers attacks in Manchester with bees allover the branding of the clubs walls.

Another important factor is education. Primary kids at the Academy have 3 sessions a week and will miss no school. Secondary will be provided Private education with a morning in school, afternoon training and education at CFA after training till nearly 8pm. 16-18 year olds are made to do BTEC’s and College work at a college that Manchester City donated land for it to be built on. They then make all players unto 16 have all black boots, high standards (a white line of when crossed, players know they are there to learn) and parents are encouraged to watch silently or sit and socialise in the cafe on site and take little interest of the players while they are training. This encourages independence, valuing education and future proofing these players; as very little will make it all the way.

Despite all this, the club have a business mindset; they provide all of this to potentially gain returns on this. Nigerian international Kelechi Iheanacho was sold my Manchester City this summer for £25 million, with City reportedly inserting buy back clauses and sell on clauses into his contract, he joined the club aged 18 in 2014, for nothing. It’s not all spend, spend, spend!

However the CFA cost money. £10 million spent on just cleaning the site, £200 million on building the site and they only pay £4.5 million rent per year on the Etihad Stadium and even get £10 million a year for the naming rights of Stadium and the CFA Campus. Covering just under half of the CFA building costs.

The City Football Group also own New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, FC Girona, Yokohama and FC Torque. Meaning that there is revenue streams in several markets throughout the footballing market. However the major market being the Premier League, means that it is imperative for the club to be doing well; however Manchester City FC tend to loan players to these clubs to allow for the development of these players to grow, within a different footballing experience.

Sir Alex Ferguson…. discuss

After Beverley Boden’s lecture on Tuesday, I decided to take a look at one of the leaders of one of the greatest ever teams there has been. Sir Alex Ferguson. In 2013 a documentary was created about how his leadership inspired players, what was needed to be successful and how it could be implemented across different sectors such as business, politics or other sports. So, here is my review of one of the most successful managers of all time through the documentary (link here): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbtZjIEs5r0 

Sir Alex came to Manchester United almost an unknown from Aberdeen in 1986. The club at the time was well known for its drinking culture and being a bit immature, one of his first acts was to gather everyone in the club into the gymnasium and said “I won’t change, but you will”. Ferguson wanted control, he knew without discipline and control he would never win anything. Jose Mourinho, stated that Ferguson modelled the club around his way. Ryan Giggs said that he had a desire for success and not standing still. Rio Ferdinand declared that he trusted Sir Alex as a manager and a person and even former Prime Minister Tony Blair, said he had this strange obsession with self-reflection. I think we know how much this man was respected and how well his leadership of a team worked.

Almost everyone has mentioned that he made it his aim to learn everyones name, from the laundry girls, to canteen staff, to admin, he knew that these little details all “lead to the top of a mountain”. He enjoyed interacting with young people, which was seen with the Class of 92, consisting of David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Phil and Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. He gambled and trusted youth even when people such as Alan Hansen said that “you’ll never win anything with kids”, Sir Alex said you’ll never win anything without them either.

(Think we can all tell, I like football a little bit…)

But it was his parents and his background that instilled this philosophy on him. His Dad worked on the docks building ships in Glasgow and played football himself. He stated that he was afraid of his Dad, he was the respected man in the family, on time to everything, owned and deserved control. But he describes a time when he and his Dad argued when Alex was a teenager, it was about that he should go to Junior Football incase making it as a senior didn’t work out. They didn’t speak for 7-8 months. Imagine!! But here Ferguson said that he learnt that you don’t always have to bellow at someone for them to realise you disappointed and retold the story of when his side were 3-0 down against Tottenham at half time. In the changing rooms at the break, all Sir Alex said was “Next goal wins this” and he was right, they went on to score 5 and win 5-3, its true then maybe silence speaks louder than words?

Many said that Alex knew whether to put an arm around someone or to shout at them. But what about the difficult ones? The players you can’t control, or read what they need? Eric Cantona was certainly one of them. In 1995, someone in the crowd said something he didn’t like, so decided to ‘kung-foo kick’ them. Manchester United banned him for 4 months. Alex knew he needed different treatment; he knew the world was after him and he would even argue that he didn’t know what to do with him. Even players such as Ryan Giggs resented the fact that Cantona would always get off lightly if he had a bad game or missed a penalty. Eventually Cantona left the club with him mainly having this reputation. Many years later, Tony Blair at that point, Prime Minister want his help, he had a bag egg in the camp (later realised as Gordon Brown) and Blair asked Sir Alex what would you do if you have someone who will not be controlled in the changing room? And Alex said, well I’d get rid of them! Blair’s response was well what if you got rid of them and they keep coming back to the changing room- Alex agreed that this was a problem… but that he needed to regain control and discipline.

It was making big decisions that Sir Alex was well known for. He saw all his players as his family, Cristiano Ronaldo called him his football dad and retold the story of when his own Dad was in a coma, Ronaldo went into his office and asked for time off as he didn’t feel right. Ferguson said “Look if you want to go away for one day, two days, a week, whatever, you go, we will miss you yes, but family is more important”, control and respect. However with the length of time Ferguson was there for, he knew he would never be able to keep the same players and would have to rebuild; but always showed compassion. 2 examples came up; Roy Keane and Jaap Stam. Keane was at the time captain and probably best player in the club; but recorded a video for MUTV their TV channel. Ferguson saw it as disrespectful and later came into the changing rooms and said Keanes gone, he isn’t coming back, nobody is bigger than the club. In the Stam story, he had just recovered from a bad injury and Ferguson thought it would be best to sell him, he actually recovered to become even better than before- Ferguson states that was probably one of his biggest regrets.

Power is something that Ferguson doesn’t believe is important, he wanted control of everything but never asked for power. He controlled staff, player contracts, transfers, food- some even say that he even decided on the toilet roll!! Ferdinand described a story of when he first joined United. In his first game he twisted his ankle and was out for 6 weeks and decided to get to know the city, went out and over indulged- Ferguson knew and when he returned to training, pulled him aside and asked how he was finding the city, he was like yeah it’s nice been to a few restaurants but nothing fancy. Ferguson then said I know what you have been doing, it stops now, no nights out no over indulging, you are here to play football. Control but also respect.

Sir Alex Ferguson used 2 examples of teams throughout his managerial career. The first was the Rockefeller Centre and how it was built, with men on the highest building in New York, all working together, making sacrifices without any life support. Ironically, there was 11 people in the photo. The second is Geese. Every year they fly 4000 miles form Canada to a warmer climate in 2 v’s, then changing over every time when someone gets tired and used to stop training when it occurred above them. His point was that if they can travel 4000 miles for each other, taking it turns just for some sun, you can graft for 38 games to win a title- easy then ey?

But it’s not just Football and politics he’s had an influence on. Ryder Cup captain Paul McKinley in 2014, asked for Sir Alex’s help, he told them about the Geese, spoke with the Caddies and players, addressed them all by name. They then managed to hold onto a 10-6 lead to win and when they did, Geese flew above their heads, fate or strong work ethic and concentration? I think we know which one Sir Alex would say…



Strange weekend, last weekend. I attended a Women’s Premier League SGM as part as my role at Middlesbrough Women FC. Also there was Katie Brazier, the FA’s head of women’s leagues and competitions and Baroness Sue Campbell who is head of women’s football; whilst also League chairwoman, Carol West. Basically, we were at the meeting to discuss this: http://www.thefa.com/news/2017/09/26/15/19/restructure-elite-womens-football-pyramid-questions-katie-brazier-the-fa-270917 and other changes to the Women’s Football Pyramid- including our current league.

What occurred was probably the worst piece of management, I have seen. I saw arguing between league officials aimed at the F.A, trying to protect their league, it looked desperate.

Basically the hierarchy of people there:

Baroness Sue Campbell; Katie Brazier; then league officials.

What it looked like was the opposite, for me, surely these people have discussed these before hand and should have just been purely led by Katie Brazier. I then went outside to use the toilet and on the way out, spoke with Baroness Sue. Lovely lady, calm, composed and quite touchy feely… but I said to her how embarrassed I was about our league, the fact WPL staff were speaking over Katie and it was just bad!

Sue agreed, she said she had been sat down for ages just holding her tongue, I just thought she was at the buffet!

I thought it was basic, that WPL staff would know and therefore allow Katie to speak and discuss to WPL clubs what was happening, therefore as managers, how do you make sure you don’t rise to the bate of powers above and allow the people below to understand the changes. However what happened was almost a debate between WPL staff and F.A staff, with clubs sat in the middle.

For me, I learnt a lot from being at both sides; make sure if I was Katie, that WPL staff understood the changes and in the meeting accepted them for what they were and let clubs listen and if they didn’t would certainly stop the meeting. If I was WPL staff, I would make sure I aired my views at the right time, not in front of all WPL clubs.

I understand that WPL staff want to protect their League and any changes being made want to probably make sure they are their own; these weren’t but time and a place to make them

One thing I do want to say, is Baroness Sue Campbell is a really lovely and down to earth woman, who either just knows exactly what to say or is meaningful in what she says and therefore Women’s Football has a great future.

presenting (a) problem

2nd week of University, 1st presentation, with people I barely know the names of. No problem!

In terms of this week, at the time of writing, I am 17 days free of taking anti-depressants after 18 months on them; but starting to feel like I am going backwards, but then everything changed.

Being at university, I felt myself. I had a focus and when it came to presenting, I wasn’t nervous; yes it was only a activity within a session, but the way I was feeling this week, it was pretty good!

Now I know, I’m doing a Masters and I know I should be presenting but in the scheme of things, decent effort all round. Plus in the environment created by staff, allowed for a great environment for  students.

In undergrad, I probably was comfortable, it was sport, I was used to it, worked with same people etc; now I want to get out of the comfort zone. Out of the dark and into the light!

I feel like the majority of my problems this week haven’t come from education or home life, it’s come from work life. I feel like in work and most things I do, I do a decent job; but then theres people doing a god awful job and I don’t yet know how to accept that. I suppose that comes with developing others. At work I’ve been told I am patronising when it comes to helping people out, I need to work on that, but why should I do my best when people get away with rubbish.

Plenty to work on then:

  • Be less patronising
  • Accept that people are rubbish
  • Break out of the comfort zone..

Anyway that’s it for another week, of a module in a year, KBO…