Who dares wins – and is blessed

FORTUNE favours the brave and, in terms of my evolving philosophy, this term more than any other has been the cornerstone on which I have forged my coaching career.

In my 16 years of coaching I have found that I have had more success when I have been bold in my outlook than when I have been more conservative. This has not always been easy and, as we saw with Ian Crook last week, the ramifications of getting it wrong can often be career defining.

For all coaches the one question that they need to answer before embarking on a career is, ”What do I want to stand for and how will I be defined?” This is not easy to answer when you are first starting and often the opportunity becomes the overriding feature in your quest to establish a career.

For me, there are two types of coaches and both can be equally as successful. There are the defensive coaches who put all stock in stopping an opposition and overcoming all challenges with minimal risk and maximum accountability. This kind of coach hates losing. Then there are attacking coaches who work hard on a playing style and philosophy and will back that against anything the opposition will throw at them. These coaches love winning.

To be successful with either approach you must first be true to your own personality and character. I must admit when I first started coaching, like most rookies, my priority was just to survive and keep my job and immediately it put me in a defensive mindset. After being bottom of the table in round five and with my career about to end before it started, I made the decision to coach as if I had a lifetime contract. From then, coaching seemed to become easier as I began to concentrate on becoming the attacking coach I was naturally suited to being. Of course, there were always challenging times and continue to be so, but I tackle them with an approach that suits my philosophy and, more importantly, my personality.

Jose Mourinho can be described as a coach who prepares his team not to lose and is one of the most successful coaches to grace our game. Pep Guardiola is at the other end of the spectrum and sets his team up to win every game based on his philosophy and he enjoyed unparalleled success. This shows there is no right or wrong way. Both these men chose a course that held true to their beliefs and have felt comfortable being defined this way.

At the 70-minute mark last week, Sydney was leading 2-0 and once again I was caught in a moment where my own beliefs were tested. I admit I hesitated when making the substitution and very nearly went a different way, but my instincts were to go for the win rather than take a conservative approach. The players were magnificent in responding to the challenge and the most pleasing thing was seeing them not settle for a draw but rather going for the win when the opportunity presented itself. Ultimately it is the players on the front line and they deserve all the credit for being brave in the face of adversity.

A member of the Melbourne Victory organisation said I was ”blessed” when he first met me, referring to the two dramatic grand final victories I enjoyed with the Roar. I think he means that I am lucky and in some respects that may be true. But I firmly believe that the fortune lies in me being true to myself and the people around me believing what I say. As Ian Crook rightly said, coaching is not for everyone and that is why clubs and aspiring coaches should both clearly define what it is they stand for before they embark on the challenging journey ahead.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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