He says that Manyoo might not want Jose Mourinho to be their next manager because he does not produce teams that play attractive football with home-grown talent.
But Mourinho can plausibly claim that these shortcomings are the product not of a lack of skill or disposition on his part, but are instead due simply to the opportunities he’s had. At Porto, he was an unproven manager and so needed to prove himself quickly. At Chelsea, his plutocratic owner demanded instant success. And at Inter, well, no manager lasts long enough these days to build from the ground up.
It’s possible then, that “Mourinho’s weaknesses” are no such thing. In adapting (very well) to his circumstances, some of his potential skills have if not atrophied then simply not been displayed.
This point, I think, generalizes. Maybe we often attribute to a person strengths and weaknesses that are in fact simply adaptation to circumstances. It’s the fundamental attribution error.
Take, for example, my game of economics writing. I suspect the differences between my writing and, say that of Larry Elliott, Martin Wolf or even Fraser Nelson are due not so much to differences in our personalities but to differences in who we write for. If I were writing for the FT, I’d write a bit like Martin and if I were writing for the Speccie, I’d write like Fraser - and vice versa. People often say “Wolf has written a good piece” or “Nelson has written a stinker”. But it might be more accurate to say “that space in the FT (Speccie) has produced a good (awful) piece.”
You might object here that we choose jobs that we find congenial. Mourinho chose jobs that require instant, pragmatic success, I chose to work for the IC rather than Guardian or Speccie, and so on.
I’m not sure. It’s equally possible that the opposite is the case. We fall into things, or get what we can, and then our preferences - maybe our characters generally - adapt to our circumstances. Our jobs create us, not (just) vice versa. Our talents, and weaknesses, aren’t the result of innate dispositions but rather are path-dependent.
Now, I personally have no great cause for complaint here. But I suspect that the millions of people trapped in drudge work might, and would sympathize with Ian Dury‘s sentiments. Maybe the meritocratic idea that people should go as far as their talents will take them is an impossible ideal - because even success requires that talents not be manifested.