Scottish football’s “hard man” culture leaving game behind


A DEEP-SEATED “hard man culture” amongst managers is leaving Scottish football behind other countries, a new study has claimed.

Academics from Stirling University spoke to Scottish football managers and found that coaches and players were not embracing contemporary techniques.

The study reports that managers were scared to adopt new methods used by their counterparts in England for fear that they would be sacked.

Jose Mourinho at Manchester United is famous for his detailed notes, known as “The Bible”, while Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola micromanages players’ weights.

But Scottish managers are still stuck in old-fashioned routines, including winging training sessions.

The authors claim that change is desperately needed to stop Scotland falling behind its European neighbours.

Photo: Cesar

They say that unless change occurs quickly, the national team will continue to fail, and clubs will be forced out of business due to dwindling attendances and revenue.

The Scottish national football team has not qualified for a major championship since the 1998 World Cup, whilst no Scottish club has won a European honour since Aberdeen, then managed by Sir Alex Ferguson, lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1983.

The study states: “Being trapped in a context where tradition, self-interest and resistance to innovation acts as a barrier to learning means the system will collapse unless people are open to change.

“This is Scottish football’s ‘global warming issue’.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is known for collating his notes, methods and techniques into a book called the bible, which acts as the cornerstone for all his training sessions.

His Manchester City rival Pep Guardiola is well-documented as having produced long-term tailored weight loss plans for indiviudal players.

But the report on Scottish managers continues: “Surprisingly, most of the coaches only planned training on an ad-hoc basis. They presented a picture of training practices that had changed little from their playing days.

“There was a hopscotch of excuses presented, including lack of finance, few support staff, and players who were resistant to having their weekly routine altered, or putting extra work in.”

Andrew Kirkland, a sports lecturer at the university, explained the potential consequences if bosses did not change their tact.

He said: “Potentially, Scottish football won’t be able to sustain as many teams.

“The income will continue to decrease, fans won’t come in the same numbers, we won’t have young Scottish players coming through, the top teams won’t be able to move back to where they were once performing at a European level, and the national team will remain in the doldrums.

“I do think that the hard man culture is alive and kicking in Scottish football. Coaches who are receptive to change or who think a little bit differently may find it difficult or impossible to get players, particularly senior ones, on board.”

But, Alex Smith, the chairman of the League Managers’ Association disagreed.

He said: “Scottish football has changed completely since I came into it 30 or 40 years ago. There is no way that you would get away with managing big clubs like you did years ago.

“At the overall club level there is a resistance to change.”

Scottish managers have achieved success in the 21st century, but most have been working outside of Scottish football.

As well as winning the English Premier League 13 times, Sir Alex Ferguson also won Europe’s premier club trophy, the UEFA Champions League, twice, in 1999 and 2008.

As recently as 2011, seven of the twenty managers in the English Premier League were Scots, although now Sunderland’s David Moyes is the only Scottish manager in the top flight.

None of the previous four managers of Scottish champions Celtic have been Scottish, and current Rangers FC manager, Mark Warburton, is English.

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