Guardiola and the happiest day of his life (Man City 1, Liverpool 1)

Two UEFA Champions League, three La Liga, three Bundesliga, two Copa  del Rey, two DFB-Pokal, three UEFA Super Cups and three FIFA Club World Cups.

Guardiola has had some good days.

His happiest day?

A 1-1 draw at home that marginally increases City’s chances of finishing in the top 4.

It is “one of the days in my career I am proud of the most” and the “happiest day of my life as a manager”.

Why is he so proud?

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The performance.

And his use of an ascending tricolon – a set of three terms, increasing in force – gives rhetorical weight to his assessment of the performance, “How we fight, how we run, how we put our spirit out”.

But it is the context of the performance that is everything for Pep.

“It is the conditions we play that game, out of the Champions league, Liverpool are one of the best teams and how we played them”.

Of course defeat to Monaco in mid-week had not been a happy day.

Anyone listening to a radio was invited to call in and express their doubts and reservations about Guardiola.

No qualifications, experience or insight needed to criticise one of the most successful managers in the history of the game.

Given this criticism, Pep uses this performance as an opportunity to commit himself and the team to “want to do something good in the next 2-3 years, we always play to win, to counter-attack, to respect our spectators.”

Leadership communication lesson

Every leader will face setbacks in any enterprise. One communication response it to control the narrative through your choice of time-frame. By looking to the years ahead, you can shift people’s focus from the setback – and the attendant seeking of blame – to an assumed positive future. By extending the time frame you also make any setback appear smaller in scale. It’s a smart response to a difficult communication challenge.

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Who can I blame? (Man Utd 1, B’Mouth 1)

The most disappointing result for the top 6 at the weekend was at Old Trafford.

Mourinho only needs to remember Van Gaal’s sacking on the day of winning the FA cup to know the relative balance of priorities between cup competitions and the league.

The failure at home to beat a Bournemouth side reduced to ten men raises questions about an assumed narrative that has Man Utd returning to the top 4.

In his post-match interview Mourinho chooses to focus attention on the first-half.

“We played a phenomenal first half and we should be winning 3 or 4 nil and we end the first half at 1-1.”.

“It is as simple as that. Who can I blame? Ourselves. Nobody else.”

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And yet it is not as simple as that.

Instead,  we have the use of apoplanesis as the subject is quickly changed from “ourselves” to  “a team that gave up to play”.

We have auxesis in his use of inflated language, in addition to “giving up”, their goalkeeper was “phenomenal”.

And we have a logos that it is very difficult to score when you have 1o men who do not want to win.

He has changed the narrative from the problems at his own club to a critique of Bournemouth, while covering his tracks by claiming he is “not critical” of Bournemouth’s approach.

Mourinho may not be in the top 4, but in his use of rhetoric, there are few managers who can touch him.

Leadership communication lesson

Communication is a skill to be learned and to be developed. Mourinho will have likely learned through observation and repetition, rather than studying the underlying rhetorical skills, but learning these skills is an invaluable shortcut for anyone who finds themselves in a leadership role. Look at Obama, look at Mourinho and even look at Donald Trump. It is the command of language that, time and time again, separates leaders from followers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is not enough (Leicester 3, Liverpool 1)

A chastening night for Liverpool and for Klopp.

The best contribution from a Liverpool player was Carragher’s joke that the only thing the players practiced during their trip to La Manga was their drinking.

For Klopp, “It is not enough, for sure it is not enough, it is not even close to being enough”.

This emphasis builds nicely to the simplicity of his answer to the problem, “so we have to work”.

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His criticism of the team is based on the gap between this performance and past performances.

A nice technique that has the effect of supporting his confidence and that of his team’s, while still allowing for a critique.

“It is hard to see what we usually do, and then to see this performance” and “We can play much better football and we have shown it already”.

Klopp then focuses on the future.

“We have a week to prepare and we have to show a reaction.” “You have to analyse, you have to show the boys and you have to react to it”.

“We all play for our future – we don’t want to make it too serious, but that is how it is”.

Leadership communication lesson

Controlling the tense of an interview is the best way to control its direction. When you are uncomfortable about something in the past, switching to the future tense is a good idea. It allows you to acknowledge the problem, but to focus on the solutions you have in place. By placing yourself at the heart of these solutions, this technique also gives you the opportunity to reinforce your authority.