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Managing People - The Wrong Way

It’s amazing how often I’ve spoken with people who work for large corporations or are in positions of power with successful organizations, and how often accomplished individuals have pointed out that the largest part of being successful, is being able to manage people and communicating effectively.

This may not exactly seem like the stuff of genius, but I’ve been offered this advice going back to the days of taking out canoe trips at summer camps in Ontario, more than 30 years ago. It’s true at that rather simple level of work, and it obviously plays out in the high pressure, big bucks world of professional sports as well.

Fabio Capello, the manager of England’s national soccer team, announced after the Lions had eked out a 2-1 friendly win over Hungary at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, that David Beckham, England’s most capped outfield player with 115 appearances, would not be involved in any more competitive matches.

Capello said he hopes that Beckham can play in a November match with France, so he can be given a final salute by the fans. According to the Associated Press, you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for that to occur. With Beckham still under contract to the L.A. Galaxy of MLS, and the fact that he has stated that he wouldn’t retire from international soccer, while still playing professionally, sources have told the AP that the midfielder will not accept Capello’s offer. “ It would seem strange to say you are not retiring then to signal your retirement in a benefit match……It’s not going to happen.”

The major difficulty with all of this, is that it has become clear that Capello had not conveyed his intentions to Beckham directly, prior to informing the fans and media. On the surface, this would seem to be a public relations nightmare. How is it possible, that one of soccer’s and England’s most popular ambassadors, would not receive the courtesy of an advanced notice by Capello?

It should be elementary common sense, that a gentleman and world class sports icon, would get at least that measure of respect. The manager had earlier stated, that Beckham could still play a role in the 2012 European Championship, when he was ruled out of the World Cup, after surgery to repair his left Achilles tendon last March. If Capello can’t handle interaction with a national hero like Beckham effectively, it makes you wonder how he communicates with the rest of his players, and if that was at all a factor, in the poor showing by the Three Lions in the World Cup earlier this summer. A gaffe like this by Capello on such a basic function, should raise a few questions about his people skills and ability to lead the team.

As reported by ESPN soccernet, Capello responded to media questions about the 35 year old Beckham, and his status with the team.

“I hope when David is okay he can play here the last game at Wembley in a friendly to say goodbye and thank you very much to the crowd. I won’t be picking him for any more competitive matches. ………Did I phone him before I went on television ? No. I think I will speak with him. But I think David knows he has no future with the international team because we have to change. We tried to speak with him.”

The response by Beckham’s agent to BBC Sports, seemed sharply different than the message conveyed by Capello. “For your info, there has been no discussion of retirement. He will always be available for his country, when fit and if needed he will be there.”

The reaction to this news from national team-mate and England captain Steven Gerrard, gives a sense of the esteem that he has among his peers. “He was a fantastic captain. I’ve learnt a lot from David and it’s been a pleasure to play alongside him.If he has played his last game, he’ll certainly be missed because, both on and off the pitch, he’s a great guy.”

Fabio Capello may be a brilliant soccer manager, although that is not a widely held belief in the U.K. right now. Aside from his strategic sophistication in the sport, he will have to improve upon his ability to communicate. A further fiasco beyond this botched bye bye to Beckham, could leave Capello up a creek without a paddle.

Strike one for the manager was the underachievement by England in South Africa. The second strike is mishandling the David Beckham announcement. As they say in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. For Fabio Capello, there may also be a three strike rule. He needs to start hitting some soccer style home runs. With references in the English press to Capello like “Dumb And Dumber”, or “ Blundering England manager … battered reputation sinks even further”, it seems that he may be approaching the point of no return in terms of his credibility, with the fans, the media, the team, and certainly David Beckham.

2 comments: on "Managing People - The Wrong Way"

Scottdog said...

Norm your article states pretty much what most of us in England are thinking.

This is a man who took a whole month to say "sorry" to the fans after an appalling World Cup, also claiming that he knew that the team would not be able to win the trophy, a mere 3 months beforehand he stated that England could win it.

He isolated the team away from civilisation during the tournament, his command of English is poor compared to our previous foreign manager Sven Goran Erikson, and it is not the first time he has fallen on the wrong side of David Beckham.

During his stint as Real Madrid manager he left Beckham out and it looked like Goldenboot's Bernabau career was over, only for Capello to have a change of heart after his team went on a slump of form.

When Theo Walcott was left out of the World Cup squad, it was Beckham who kept motivating him telling him not to worry and to try and force himself back into the team, which he did so to good effect in the friendly against Hungary.

Yes the players were mostly to blame for the horror show in South Africa, and Capello got away pretty much scot-free, but now a lot of the underperforming players have been removed from the squad, all eyes are on the Italian and right now he is on thin ice, but for Steven Gerrard's moments of genuis against Hungary he would have been embarrased again

theblacktippingpoint said...

Fabio Capello is a great coach and is considered by many people top 5. But the way he has handled England from the start of the world cup till now has been disastrous. The team selection was very very poor and starting XI was terrible too. After nearly escaping a what seemed to be easy Group C, they crash out of the world cup 4-1 to a young team that just simply outclassed them. Yet Fab blames the referees for there absurd decision to rule out franks goal. Even though it might have gave them some momentum going into the 2nd half they just weren't good enough.

Now after the world cup he trys to recruit a shit load of players, who all refuse to play for england and kick out one of the most vital players, David Beckham, from the team. Not only did he kick him out he doesnt even tell him man to man but decides to tell the media so they can pass it on to him..sad. If there is a perfect role model on how not to manage a international team, this is it.