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Hackett: How Should Real Salt Lake Determine New Manager From Long List Of Capable Candidates?

Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – What should Real Salt Lake be looking for in their new manager? How will they determine who the correct candidate is and what separates candidates during the interview process?

Many fans, media members, and interested bystanders love to share their opinion on who they believe the next manager of Real Salt Lake should be. An allure often resonates with people as they think and consider all of the possibilities under new leadership, and understandably so.

But let’s make something really clear, the most important attribute of any manager is leadership. It isn’t about what formation or tactical brilliance they possess, although they are also very important. The most important attribute is having full control of the locker room and understanding how to get the most out of your players.

Assistant coaches are on the staff for a reason, they often act as the tactical masterminds who spend most of their time trying to decipher between playing one way or another.

But the manager must fixate most of his or her attention on the players and the working culture within the club. It is what separates great teams from good and good teams from poor.

Learn From Sir Alex

Arguably the greatest manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, has many inspirational and educational quotes from his managerial experiences. When you research them you will likely never find a quote that discusses the tactical side of the game, rather, Ferguson believes wholeheartedly in the process of developing character within his roster.

“Watching others, listening to their advice, and reading about people are three of the best things I ever did,” Ferguson once said.

If being the manager was as simple as putting together a strong game plan, why did the majority of Ferguson’s assistants not go on to have successful careers as the main boss? Only Walter Smith was able to have success as a manager following a stint under Ferguson, others, such as Carlos Queiroz, left and returned within the span of a year.

The Key To Successful Management

The game of soccer can become so complex, especially when results do not go as planned and yet conversely, the game of soccer can be so simple when results go in your favor.

At the end of the day, the manager can set up the game plan with an expectation of his players executing. But depending on how the opposition plays, the surface of the pitch, the weather conditions, and so on, the game may play out in a completely different manner.

That is the beauty of soccer. Unlike in the NFL, where coaches can communicate to their quarterbacks via an electronic system implanted in the helmet, a manager in soccer can only bark instructions from the sideline, and, depending on the atmosphere of the stadium, may not be able to communicate with the vast majority of his players until half-time.

Management in soccer is an industry where psychology thrives. If you want to have success you must understand people. I can not emphasize that enough.

Furthermore, for Real Salt Lake and general manager Elliot Fall, the club is not interviewing candidates because they are questioning whether or not the specific candidate is a good coach. They know they can coach, they wouldn’t be interviewing them if they had their doubts. The interview process is about understanding how that individual operates and most specifically what leadership qualities they present.

I have never understood how fans can be so passionate about a candidate when they have very little idea of the candidate’s personality or leadership qualities.

Real Salt Lake needs a leader. Someone who can take ownership of the locker room, respect, educate, and get the most out of the playing group, and instill a sense of belief within the organization.

For Real Salt Lake, this coaching search is far more than finding a tactically savvy manager. It’s about finding a candidate who understands people, period.