Which side are you on boys?
More regular that Halley’s Comet comes England’s elimination from the World Cup and once again there will be much discussion and hand wringing about the reasons behind it and finger-pointing all round. No doubt another manager will be sacked and a huge compensation package paid and we start all over again. With debates about how relaxed or strict the regime should be, whether a beer is allowed or not and how many nights with the WAGs is justifiable.
All of this seems to me to overlook the main issue which is startlingly similar to one that I face at work. They are not a team. When Jamie Carragher said that he valued playing for his club more than his country there was an outcry. When asked the question “World Cup or Champions League?” on a kids TV show, Wayne Rooney answered “Champions League”. But are they just not being honest?
I was sitting with a board member the other day and I asked him a simple question, “who is your team?” He started to talk about the people who report into him and the areas that he is responsible for. He didn’t talk about his fellow board members. I tested it out on another board member and again the same thing happened. The simple truth is that their affiliation, their loyalty and their focus is placed in one team and not another – in this case it is Company vs Group in the football it is Club vs Country.
Add to this the fact that we reward and recognise for the Company performance and what do you expect? I’m no expert on football financials, but I can’t help thinking that the bonus a player would receive from reaching the Champions League final would far outweigh the money they would get for a World Cup final. Not to mention the sponsorship deals and the fact that it comes around each year so you get another bite at the cherry.
Although it is easier for me to start to change things and to try to realign the senior team, I’m facing many of the same battles. The culture is ingrained, there is a reluctance to change and the organisation and establishment is brittle and immobile. On the positive side, I have control over the entirety, whereas there is no one overarching body looking after both clubs and country for football.
We could change the CEO (now there’s a thought!) time and time again, we could tease and cajole and try to conjure up a slightly stronger team ethos, but unless we tackle the way that people are organised and rewarded we will be rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic.
If you want change, you need to address the underlying culture. Either that, or our players are just shit…….