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May 09, 2013



So another thing that could be said based on what you've written;

more intelligent, driven young men from impoverished backgrounds have more opportunities and are thus not pigeon-holed into football.


Are being working class and being Fascist mutually exclusive?


Ferguson can only be described as a socialist if you stretch the definition to cover everyone from Stalin to Liam Byrne (that he accepted a knighthood and counts Tony Blair as a mate probably puts him closer to the latter).

The man has always been an autocrat and a bully, who has never allowed anyone to become a bigger figure than him at MUFC. His view on team-building and collective effort is closer to Fascism (the infallibility of the leader and the equality of the followers) than socialism, which is possibly why he always got on better with Mourinho than Wenger.

The scarcity of top-level English managers has less to do with deindustrialisation north of the Trent and more to do with the lack of systematic coaching development during the 70s and 80s. It was an insititutional issue rather an a cultural one - i.e. the utter crapness of the FA.


It's fascinating to try and analyse Sir Alex's success over may years.

Football is suitable for collective effort as there is very simple measure of success - winning the game. All top level coaches recognise that it's the team performance that counts.

I'm not sure that this explains the lack of top English managers. Probably a better explanation is that the owners of Manchester United were very patient with Sir Alex - his early time at United was not highly successful. However, over time his approach worked. Very few managers are given the luxury of time.


Does football require a more collectivist mindset from players than many team sports? Or at least until recently. In cricket/baseball, you can see who is getting the wickets and runs, so there's little chance of coasting without being found out. Pretty much the same in rugby - if the scrum get's pushed back, it's not the winger's fault. There are exceptions, (the trundler who gets wickets because the fast bowler has already terrified the opposition), but I reckon there's something in it.

But the lazy forward who rarely tracks back/doesn't make endless lung-busting runs into space, or the full back who doesn't make runs forward has (or had, until recent gizmos) a better chance of getting away with it. Footballers have to be prepared to do a lot of stuff that comes to nothing (runs into space) or that goes unnoticed by all but the most perceptive fan such as Mr A to E above (ie marking). Maybe collectivist managers help instil (or spot) such a selfless tendency.

I realise I have just written about the unselfish attitudes of footballers.


@ FATE & Luke - the details of SAF's political opinions aren't important. What matters is his culture of collectivism, as evidenced by his early experience as a shop steward. I say his culture matters because it's this that a great manager transmits to his players - by getting them to do the ugly stuff Luke describes.
Gary Neville says SAF "changed the mentality of every single individual at that football club."


"How many people from poor areas had intelligence and organizational skills like our great football managers, but lacked the opportunities to exercise them?"

I would have thought that Chris would try to answer such a good question, rather than just use it as rhetorical flourish.

Surely there is data on what happens to individuals of high IQ but low SES.

Also, the "collectivist mentality" is part of all team sports by definition. The English upper classes invented or codified almost all modern team sports. That's why the Empire was won on the playing fields of Eton.

Team sport collectivism did not arise from either the British working class or from European fascism. It came from English schoolmasters and others channeling the natural masculine desires to form coalitions and competitons.

The old working class communities had an affinity with team sports because they had a strong masculine ethos. Less so nowadays?


Arsene Wenger is the World's 4th highest paid manager (behind Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho, Guangzhou’s Marcelo Lippi and PSG’s Carlo Ancelotti)

Wenger, then, is a champagne socialist, preaching that which he does not practice himself. The gap between Wenger's salary and that of his players is more marked than at any other club in the world, not least at the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City, Paris St Germain where the star attractions - Cristiano Ronaldo, Yaya Toure and Zlatan Ibrahimovic - all earn significantly more than their respective managers.

But not Wenger. Is that a symptom of Arsenal’s absence of a star player deserving of earning an intergalactic salary, or has Wenger packaged a more totalitarian, self-rewarding capitalist system as “socialism”?



If you really think that there is anything that we can learn from football managers who have to organise 11 men to kick ball around a field that can be usefully translated into how best to organise a population of millions in their multifarious economic endeavours, then you are considerably more misguided than I thought possible.


I think Jim misses the point; that we should value all members of society as a manager values all team members, as that is the key to good results. Excess rewards or esteem for a few is inefficient .


Epic fail:

"There are a lot of myths surrounding people who are successful. The great one is I'm a former shipyard worker. I've never worked in a shipyard. My dad and my brothers and my uncles all worked there but not me. I was too intelligent."


From someone who actually was a shipyard worker, and know exactly how "collectivism" is enforced by shop stupids.


@Breviosity, the game of football as codified by public schoolboys in the 1860s (and institutionalised by the FA) was characterised by dribbling and individual play. The competition was intra as much as inter-team. This style of play lives on in Rugby Union.

The collectivist or "combination" game, i.e. short passing, was pioneered by Northern (Sheffield) and Scottish (Queens Park) teams, becoming a recognised national style in Scotland by the 1870s and being seeded among English Football League teams in the 1880s by itinerant Scottish players (e.g. David Danskin at Arsenal).

Tim Almond

They were only collectivist within the parameters that they could also select and fire players.


A silly post with flimsy logic and self-serving nonsense.

Football is a nothing more than a team game not a socialist nirvana. The managers mentioned had dictatorial tendencies, ruling with a iron fist. Man Utd are a capitalist machine.If you cannot discern Mourinho's ego, constant changing of clubs demanding higher wages, and solipsism (like that other "socialist" Tony Blair) as a form of individualism god help you, Chris.

Your misty eyed view socialism is a pipe dream, mercifully. Utopianism has led to terror every time in history.


@ ftumch: "I was a shop steward as an apprentice and led the apprentices' strike in '61. Later on, I became the shop steward of the toolroom when I was only 21."
@ TomJefs - Only a fanatic misreading would lead anyone to infer that I'm advocating collectivism for society as a whole.


Mourinho was ten years old when Portuguese 'fascism' finally collapsed; it had already been on its knees for a good decade prior to that. It is also a highly moot point to describe the corporatist and Catholic Estado Novo regime as fascist.



You argued for extending socialist principles from the football ground (why aren't the Japanese any good then?) to organisations. Where next in society if it then worked so well? Be honest at least.

What you get badly wrong is that Ferguson and Mourinho, as examples that you used, relentlessly promote(d) individual competition between players as do the most successful companies, like Microsoft and Apple. By definition groups are collectivist in some form anyway but suppressing individualism which you are pointing towards is a denial of human nature, every bit as collectivism is. No, more collectivism or conformity is not needed. Cooperation and team spirit for sure but don't conflate the two.

You would have made a more interesting comparison if you used the statist individualism of the Nordic countries to frame your argument.


@Keith: "we should value all members of society as a manager values all team members, as that is the key to good results. Excess rewards or esteem for a few is inefficient"

Where does the 'dropped from the team and then fired from the club' concept fit in with a wider society then? Is that where the usual socialist state's 're-education camps' come in? Fail to meet society's requirements (as decided by a single dictatorial figure) - end up being banished from society?


Jim, I don't recall the bit where failed footballers get carted off to a work camp.
They usually just drink themselves to an early death (just like failed people do in real life).

Igor Belanov

The reason why there are relatively few top English managers has little to do with the fashionable view that English football hasn't taken coaching courses seriously enough.
The major factors are the same as those that have led to so many foreign footballers playing here, basically that there is a lot of money in English football and they feel that they can cherry-pick 'the best' from other countries. This is added to be the fact that many owners are foreign, and lack a patriotic reason for making appointments, but crucially, most top clubs judge it essential that a 'big name' is in charge to keep fans and players happy and because they can't be bothered to take pains to recruit a better man. Thus Di Canio is appointed at Sunderland even though he was not even the best manager in the third tier.


New man Moyes is also a Glaswegian of solid working class stock and has *socialist sympathies*. ie. he's a Labour supporter (backed Burnham for leader)


Clearly, the answer is Paolo di Canio for England manager.


(why aren't the Japanese any good then?)

Uh, 30th on the dodgy FIFA rankings, 21st on the Elo. Not bad going for a country that got its first professional league in 1992.

Miguel Madeira

Mourinho grow up in Setubal, a industrial (and communist) city. Perhaps he is even more closer to the orignal point of Chris?


Hey, that's a clever way of thinknig about it.

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