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Friday, May 10, 2019

Coaching Education: "The Manager's Role According to My Experience" by Massimiliano Allegri

Massimiliano Allegri.
Photo credit: Muhammad Ashiq.

Massimiliano Allegri wrote a compelling essay about his perspectives on a football manager's role at the youth and professional levels. He also discussed why he developed his App, "Mr. Allegri Tactics." 

In five years at Juventus F.C., Mr. Allegri won the Scudetto five times, the Italian Cup four times, and the Italian Super Cup twice, respectively. He was also runner-up twice in the UEFA Champions League. All the best wishes to Mister Allegri in his next managerial assignment. 

Discussion Items:

1. On his Google Play App: Mr. Allegri Tactics.
2. On the manager as an educator especially for children.
3. On not being a Big Brother.
4. On what a modern manager needs to know.
5. On the manager as a leader.
6. On how to communicate.
7. On how to teach players to lead healthy lifestyles.
8. On a journey to travel together.

1. On his Google Play App: Mr. Allegri Tactics:

I discovered this essay a few years ago on Mister Allegri's promotional site for his innovative coaching application (App) that can be found on Google Play. Mister Allegri clearly understands the role of technology in his profession and decided to create a product to share his expertise.

One quote on his site concisely summed up Mister Allegri's coaching philosophy and comes from Leonardo da Vinci:

"If I had to express the philosophy behind my football in only a phrase. I would say:

'Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication'."

Massimiliano Allegri is one of world football's in-demand coaching talents. Few modern football managers could have quoted Leonardo da Vinci and/or launched a new App. Let's take a longer look at Mister Allegri's excellent essay.

Translated from the Italian by Steve Amoia of World Football Commentaries. 

2. On the manager as an educator especially for children:

Johan Cruyff: "At the root of everything is that children need to enjoy playing football." It's really that simple.

Football in Italy is the most loved sport and is practiced by millions of children as their main activity. For this reason, the figure of a manager plays a role of great importance. Not only at sporting events but above all, the influence you have off of the pitch. The manager is a coach, an educator, an organizer and a leader. The capacity to go from one function to the other, by choosing the most adapted role and according to the situation, constitutes his most precious professional asset. I deliberately defined the manager as an educator. Together with parents and school teachers, the manager has already become a fundamental pillar for children. He contributes in a large part to the athlete's education, to his rate of maturity, and if we should so desire, also to his societal behavior.

We must never forget that the pitch and changing room are a classroom of life for children. And with this spirit, a manager must prepare each season with an objective to make the children grow up by helping them to understand how to relate to the world. And how they confront small challenges makes you understand how the child will take on larger ones in life.

3. On not being a Big Brother: An Educator, Yes, But Never a Big Brother
The manager, even if he holds a higher and authoritarian role, must always respect the player. And at the same time, the latter must respect the coach. The relationship between them is a fundamental part of the profession. You need to know how to make both roles always remain clear and distinct. Often, players don't feel understood but only judged by their teachers and parents. They look to the manager as a reference point and at times, give him too much trust. 
On the other hand, it's fundamental to find common ground to ensure that the relationship is equitable. You must never exceed in friendship nor alienate. It's very important to leave the players with lightheartedness, creativity and the desire to enjoy themselves. But at the same time, teach them to take on their own responsibilities. 

4. On what a modern manager needs to know:

But therefore, what does a modern-day manager need to know?
The technical role is without a doubt the most definitive task. Different schools of thought exist. And if it is already frequently written from this perspective, suffice to think about how many manuals there are for training ground exercises, athletic preparation and in more general terms, on what to do on the pitch with players.
However, what is not explained to new coaches is:
  • How to conduct a training session.
  • What are the guidelines on the pitch to augment the intensity of training exercises for the players.
  • How to prepare a pre and post-match discussion in the changing room.
  • What are the details to watch out for during a training exercise (either technical or athletic) to improve the quality of their own players.
Consequently, it makes me laugh thinking about how many coaching manuals exist on 'what to do' but not one of them transfers its own vision to explain the main dynamics of football: The essence recounted by those who have lived through these experiences at the highest level. 
The manner in which you carry out a training exercise depends upon experience, competence, the formation, and from the abilities acquired by the manager in the sporting field. Here is the reason why inside of the Mr. Allegri Tactics app, I wanted to insert all of those principles that make a difference so that new generations of coaches can benefit from my experience and accelerate their own formative path.

5. On the manager as a leader: The manager is also a leader.
Whoever has played sports keeps a few special coaches in their heart. I try to ask this question: 'Do they occupy this special space only because they were great managers? Or because with their charisma and understanding, football culture made them grow more than the other ones?' 
The answer is: Who made us become not only better footballers but better men. Whoever is a football man understands exactly what I am stating. 
In this sense, the manager holds the role of a leader. He must have the capacity to build a focal point around which the group forms its cohesion and unity. The only way to ensure that this happens is taking part in initiatives, discussions and activities of the group. Therefore, the manager needs to represent a model by looking to make the players' spontaneous attitudes of emulation rise.
Therefore, one speaks of visual behaviors. In other words, we need to first do what we want from the players. Besides being a leader, the manager must take away the burden of responsibility from the group to the scope of creating a calm environment. One that is favorable to reach predetermined objectives.
Is it possible to transfer the charisma of a manager? I'm not really certain but surely, we can teach methodologies and provide tools to take care of the mental approach of footballers. Tools that will allow them not to have to be groping in the dark. This is why we have provided a section dedicated in the App to the mental aspect and efficient communication.

6. On how to communicate:
Communicate in a personalized fashion because each player is different.
The major effort required of a manager is to stabilize an empathetic rapport with each one of the athletes who comprise the group. Once you put yourself into each athlete's shoes, the manager will know their individual demands. And only at that point will the manager be able to lead the group in the best way. Every person is different from another. The manager must have the capacity to understand who he has in front of him and the intelligence to select the most consistent attitude. 

7. On how to teach players to lead healthy lifestyles:

Not only 'on the pitch' but above all 'away from the pitch'.

Another fundamental aspect in the instruction of football is to direct athletes to follow a healthy lifestyle. The sporting world is borne of a healthy environment. Today, it is still considered this way precisely because of the assumption that athletes can lead a healthy life without any 'bad' vices. 
To ensure that players lead a consistent lifestyle, it's necessary to give them valid motivations. First of all, you need to show them the right and the wrong way through visual behaviors. But above all, you need to make intrinsic motivations arise within them. Mainly, I've noticed that addressing these types of behaviors through prohibition, fear and coercive conditioning, does not work with players. Or at least, operates at its peak in the short term.
What I advise to do is suggest behaving in a healthy way, by making them understand the positive implications this causes in their sporting performances, career and more generally, also in their personal relationships.
Inside of the App, thanks to the contribution of 'Healthy Foundation,' we have inserted a great deal of advice to be transferred to the players. Small pills to be taken as a starting point which allow the manager to have the right responses at the proper time to make suggestions to the players. 

8. On a journey to travel together:
A Journey to Travel Together.
If you would like to come into contact with my vision of football, and to know the principles that I bring forth with my own staff, I advise you to become a part of of the Mr. Allegri Tactics project. Sign up as a tester through the link you will find here underneath the article. 
In addition to the points that I mentioned above, you will find many other colleagues, such as yourself, who have the same ambition to improve. With my staff, we are working to create something that is truly useful and direct: A project that can bring experience and the working tools of professionals to all football coaches.
I am waiting for you,
Massimiliano Allegri

Please Note:

This is an archived version of the original article that no longer appears on Allegri's promotional site. The source link below was active when I translated this article a few years ago.

Italian sourceMr. Allegri Tactics, "Il ruolo dell’allenatore secondo la mia esperienza," di Massimiliano Allegri. (29/9/2015).

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Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator based in Washington, D.C. He has been the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and published The Soccer Translator from 2008 to 2015. He has also contributed at AC Cugini Scuola Calcio, Beyond The Pitch, Football Media, Italian Soccer Serie A.com, Keeper Skool, and Soccerlens (Sportslens), respectively.

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