Another good performance (West Brom 2, Man City 3)

Thirty-five goals scored in only ten games suggests it is all going rather well for Guardiola and Man City.

Guardiola’s challenge is to manage expectations.

Hence, while recognising “another good performance”, he also draws attention to “conceding three chances and West Brom scored two goals.”

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There is a warning about the risk of complacency.

“It is not easy to win a lot of games. It can confuse you in the head and you can think you are what you are not. It was a good performance in a humble way.”

“We are only five points ahead of the second-place team and nothing like where we need to be at the end of the season.”

If you are a team chasing Man City, you must already be worrying where they may be at the end of the season.

Leadership communication lesson

The post-match interview forces a manager to communicate after a game, but Guardiola also provides an example of how leaders are always communicating. Enjoying great success may be more pleasurable than failure, but all teams will need to be reminded of the dangers of hubris and the importance of staying close to the processes that have brought them success.

 

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731 minutes (Crystal Palace 2, Chelsea 1)

A goal via two defenders is still a goal and for Palace it contributed to a victory against last season’s champions.

Conte opens his interview answering a question on the  impact of injuries and the international break and whether this was the cause of defeat.

” I don’t know for sure – to play without three important players is not simple, the game was not simple.”

” We need to try to understand this situation, to work to put it right despite these issues. ”

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He declines to share what we he said at half-time to the players.

“I prefer always to keep private what I tell in the first-half and in the second-half.”

Instead he throws the conversation forward.

“Now we have to prepare for the next game in the Champions League and try to do our best.”

And he refuses to answer a question on the gap developing at the top of the Premier League.

“At the end of the season we will see what happens.”

Instead he draws on the rhetorical technique of Epizeuxis to stress what he needs his team to do next.

“In these circumstances we must work, work, work, work, work, work to try to do our best.”

Leadership communication lesson

A loss as much as a victory is an opportunity for a leader to reinforce the behaviours he expects and demands from his team. Conte may not make the specifics visible in his post-match interview, but you can be in no doubt as to the approach he wants from his players. Repetition is a powerful and underused communication tool for many leaders. An audience will always remember much less than you imagine, so repeat and repeat again the messages you want to land.

 

 

 

Every day is tough (Everton 0, Burnley 1)

Nowhere is the current gap between expectation and results greater in the Premier League than at Everton.

A net spend in excess of £50 million to be 2 points from the relegation zone.

For Koeman, “We started well. We played aggressive. Over the total game we were the better team.”.

“The first shot on target is a goal for Burnley and if you analyse Burnley you know it is then very difficult.”.

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Did the confidence drain from his players subsequently?

“Always there is a reaction. This is normal in the situation, there is an impact on the players, the team and the fans.”.

“I can’t complain about the attitude and commitment of my players. We will go on, we will continue, what I saw today is how we need to be to come out of this difficult situation.”

Were his selection decisions correct?

“In life you don’t get a second opportunity – I am not unhappy with what I saw from the team.”

It is confident and polished interview and one that suggests Koeman believes he still has time to turn the situation around.

Leadership communication lesson

Most leaders will never have to defend their team from criticism as publicly as in football, but the decisions leaders take on this issue can define their success or otherwise. A sense of loyalty is built one grain of sand at a time and can be washed away in an instant. This does not mean a leader will never criticise a team publicly. Control and judgement must however be the watchwords before public criticism is aired.