Which sporting manager would do best in the business world – and why?
Obviously, I’d say Arsene Wenger. He actually manages his club Arsenal in every aspect. He understands the brand and operates as a very savvy brand manager. Everything is geared to supporting the central activity, the football on the pitch, so he plays a big role in designing not just the training routines but the training facilities. His thinking is long-term and he doesn’t get deflected by short-term setbacks to change his overall vision. Oh, and unlike most of the other Premier league managers, he works within budgets and doesn’t believe the ‘owner’ should just open his wallet to provide extra funds. He also has his own way with words, footballistically speaking.
In these straightened times, my inclination is to suggest Malcolm Allison – because he’d show us how to be flash with the cash, and spend our way back to economic health.
The Sporting Manager would have to be Terry Venables – all blag, great soundbite technique, looks good dressing down as well as up, can croon at the Christmas party, chat up the wives if necessary, comes across well on TV, good at handling large cheques, has no idea of how something actually works (this is actually a positive in the business world). He no doubt has a great lawyer and accountant. A shoo-in for any position going!
Brian Clough for gems like this on managing players: “I’d ask him how he thinks it should be done, have a chat about it for twenty minutes and then decide I was right.”
The serious answer has to be Dave Brailsford, the team manager of the Team GB Cyclists. Meticulous attention to detail, staying in the background rather than being a massive egotist, raising a mediocre brand with no real pedigree into world beaters. Who could top that achievement? Although it might be more fun to have one of our top companies run by Jose Mourinho. Football was much greyer once he left, and in the current gloom, the business world would be massively enlivened by his swaggering bombast. He might be able to raise business morale by force of personality alone.
I’d like to offer an alternative perspective on this one – whilst I think that as copywriters we should aspire to avoid the ambiguity of Eric Cantona’s infamous “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown in to the sea” I think we’d also do well to emulate the poetry and memorability of this sentence. For good or for bad, it gets you thinking, and for me that is something that good writing should always do.
It clearly has to be Big Ron Atkinson. This is the man who displayed his astute business acumen early in his career, exchanging one player for a lawnmower and another for a case of champagne, whilst keeping himself in sheepskin coats, gold signet rings and fine cognac. In keeping with business executives, his vivid application of our language includes an entirely new vernacular – Ronglish. As business managers talk of “streamlining” and “blue sky thinking”, Ron too talks of being in places “early doors” and “giving it the full gun”. An inspirational character. One could easily imagine a doublespeak peppered annual address to shareholders by Sir Big Ron, CEO of Orange….