Following in Sir Alex's footsteps...
Dr Andrew Manley, Senior lecturer in Sports Psychology at Leeds Metropolitan, comments on Sir Alex Ferguson's impending retirement, and the impact on the team and his successor.
"In light of the news that Sir Alex Ferguson will be abdicating from the Old Trafford throne at the end of this season, there has been immediate speculation regarding who his successor as manager of Manchester United is likely to be. Following in the footsteps of someone such as Sir Alex will be no easy task, especially given the hugely successful reputation the Scotsman has built up during his 26 years at the helm. My research has shown that athletes such as football players often rely heavily on reputation information when forming initial impressions and expectations of a new coach.
"Specifically, the research evidence demonstrates that a successful coach reputation can lead players to respond positively to a new coach, which in turn has implications for the development and performance of both the players and the coach. Whoever is named as the next manager at the Theatre of Dreams, one immediate challenge facing him will be the need to effectively manage not only his working relationship with a new crop of players, but also the players’ responses to the departure of such a decorated manager as Sir Alex.
"With the above evidence in mind, the incoming coach may wish to harness positive aspects of his own managerial reputation as a means of navigating himself and his players through this immediate transition."
Andrew is a Principal Lecturer in Sport & Exercise Psychology. He also works as a Practitioner Sport and Exercise Psychologist supporting athletes and coaches from a range of sports and backgrounds.