We fought hard, we fought hard (Southampton 0, Man Utd 1)

All three points for United in a performance in which for Mourinho, “we fought hard, we fought hard.”

Defensive solidity was the most important element.

“We did for 20 minutes what many Premier League teams do for 90 minutes with five at the back and defend with a very low block.”.

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Pressed to praise Lukaku, Mourinho is qualified in his response.

“He is a striker who is scoring goals. His work is important for us.”

“He could score a second goal and kill the game. He did not, but his work is important like anyone else.”.

In contrast – given the opportunity to comment on the performance of his wide-men – Mourinho picks out Rashford as being “phenomenal”.

This contrast in approach to two of his strikers is likely influenced by their relative confidence.

Lukaku’s goal return in comparison to Rashford’s this season means Mourinho is knowingly directing his praise where he feels it can have most impact on the player and more importantly on his team.

Leadership communication lesson

The ability to publicly – and privately –  praise members of a team is an important tool for many leaders. As with any tool, however, it needs to be used knowingly. What should matter most to a leader is the objective they are pursuing and the decision on how to use praise should flow from this. Fairness is important and it is clearly a fine line to tread, but if praise can have more impact on the performance of one individual over another then it should be used in this way.

 

 

 

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We played so good (Watford 0, Man City 6)

Fifteen goals, in three games, with none conceded, means City are having a moment.

Against Watford Guardiola believes, “We played so good, we played so good.”

He amplifies the result by placing it in a frame of his choosing.

“Last season Arsenal, Manchester United were beaten here, Liverpool did not win here and it is hard, especially after being away in the Champions League three days before.”

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The result is a consequence of the performance.

“We build up, a lot of players close to the ball, we are able to make short passes, we have a lot of energy with our full backs to be able to go up and down, the players who come from the bench give us something new, so it is good.”

“We make a good performance. That is the most important thing, because when you make a good performance, after that you always win.”

Questioned as to whether the staff and players were now a more relaxed team, Guardiola brings it back to basics.

“Winning games gives you more confidence so the staff are happier.”

“The reason we are here is to win games.”

Leadership communication lesson

Success is an opportunity to build the belief of your team in the work they are doing and the decisions you have taken. Within any team there will be individuals who doubt and are critical of the leader. Framing your success in an argument of your choosing – as Guardiola does here in stressing the strategic elements of the performance – is a powerful tool for a leader to push these voices to the margin.

 

 

 

You have to take it (Man City 5, Liverpool 0)

In a post-match interview understandably dominated by the interpretation of the red card, Klopp still effectively communicates a number of messages.

He draws attention to the chances Liverpool created and describes the failure to take  these chances as “my biggest problem today”.

“We had all we needed to score some goals.”

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Klopp’s analysis of the red card adds little to the existing debate. “It was unfortunate…it was an accident…in my opinion it was not a red card.”

More interesting are the additional reasons he gives for the subsequent performance. Believing that, “then you felt the intensity of the international week” and “we have young boys on the pitch, so there was not a lot of right decisions.”.

5-0 may be a an unpleasant score line, but Klopp contributes a memorable line as to how it should be remembered through his use of Chiasmus.

” Better one five-nil, than five one-nils”

He ends the interview by looking forward.

“It was a very bad one. That is life. You take what you get and make the best of it. That is what we will do.”

Leadership communication lesson

A significant set back will always mean there is more focus on what you say and what you do. An effective leader will recognise this as an opportunity and be very clear on how they want to use the additional attention. Alternatively, if the leader reacts emotionally to the set back, the opportunity can be lost and their leadership is likely to be placed under additional scrutiny.