Stop sacking managers

Sacking managers is expensive – just ask the folks over at Manchester United, who have reportedly paid at least £12 million to be rid of José Mourinho. Now that the dust has cleared a bit, I want to make a somewhat unpopular point: sacking Mourinho was a mistake. Here’s why. Hiring a top manager in soccer is never easy for a big club. Once the executives think they know the person they want, they lose all their bargaining power. That’s because a top manager usually doesn’t mind too much where he coaches. Mourinho has been happy in Portugal, Italy, Spain, England… next he could go to…
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Mental errors in soccer

Plenty has been written about the role of cognitive bias in sports. Much of it, however, is theoretical. Having worked in soccer for six years now, I’ve experienced the effect of several biases – and other mental errors – directly in my daily interactions. I thought it might be helpful for other decision-makers in soccer to hear about some of these errors in a real-world setting. Here is a short and doubtlessly incomplete list. I’ve coined some of the terms myself, so expert readers may know some of these phenomena by other names. Prejudice. Simple, old-fashioned prejudice is alive and well…
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The business models that work in soccer

(This post from August 28 disappeared after a server migration – here it is again, thanks to Google cache….) What makes a soccer club work as a business? I’ve now spent six years in this industry, and earlier I worked as an economist and strategic consultant. Throughout my time in soccer, I’ve tried to take note of the strategies that club owners and executives pursued: what they wanted to do coming in, what they actually did, and how they coped when things went wrong. As in any industry, a negligent leader is unlikely to get good results, whatever his or…
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