Football managers and leadership lessons

The Guardian ran an article this week on Arsene Wenger’s press conference prior to an important game in the champion’s league. The press conference was news worthy because the Arsenal manager became irritated with the line of questioning and instead of his normal cool, calm and intellectual self he was sarcastic, defensive and prickly. The Guardian compared being a football manager under pressure to being a public sector leader under pressure and said that Arsene Wenger gave a lesson in how not to handle the pressure.  

It was topical but I am not convinced by the footballing analogy. Alex Ferguson is generally regarded as a very successful manager and a highly effective leader. He is also notorious for being bad tempered with those who question his decisions, to refuse to speak to certain representatives of the media he considers have wrong him in the past and was caught recently telling his press officer to ban a journalist who asked a question he didn't like. If you want to draw parallels between leadership in the public sector and football management then I suggest it would be that the media in both cases likes success but they like a crisis even more.

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