5 reasons teachers would make ideal football managers

A football team of part-timers managed by a primary school headteacher has made it to the FA Cup third round. But is it any surprise? Teachers have all the skills to be football managers

Dan Worth

Use football to engage working class boys in school, say academics

Over the weekend a football team of part-timers managed by the headteacher of a primary school made it to the third round of the FA Cup.

This means the team in question, Chorley FC, is now in the draw for a potential match against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United or Chelsea.

The fact the team is managed by primary headteacher Jamie Vermiglio has hit the headlines for delivering that much-vaunted "magic of the FA Cup".

Perhaps, though, it’s no surprise that a football team managed by a teacher is performing so well. After all, the two roles share many similar skill sets…

1. Player management/pupil management

A football manager has to keep their players functioning and hitting their targets. Faced with a misfiring striker, a manager might need to offer some words of encouragement: "I believe in you, the goals will come, keep getting in those positions and you’ll be hitting the back of the net in no time".

Similarly, a pupil whose work slumps may also need a few words of encouragement to get them back and firing on all cylinders: "You know you can do this, you've worked hard, just take your time and do your best".

Sometimes, though, tough love is called for: Think of Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous "hairdryer treatment" that he was known to unleash after a poor first-half performance.

Teachers can’t adopt quite such aggressive tactics but sometimes some well-chosen words that tell a pupil "come on, this isn’t good enough" can have just the same impact.

2. Mixing up tactics

A good manager recognises when their tactics aren’t working and changes them accordingly. So, too, can teachers spot when a classroom idea, lesson plan or project just isn’t resonating and they must think on their feet and adapt accordingly.

Or sometimes it’s about calling on an unexpected player/pupil to take on a role they would not usually do and that seems like madness to all watching on. "Peter from 2H as Joseph? It'll ruin the play, I tell you," says an incredulous colleague.

But then that player/pupil delivers an outstanding performance to help win the cup/put on a nativity the likes of which has never been seen before and the coach's managerial prowess/teacher's skills are plain for all to see.

It’s just a shame you can’t substitute in another teacher if you’re having an off day. Well, unless there’s a substitute teacher around.

3. Keeping everyone happy

Football managers don’t have it easy: loyal fans desperate for three points, big-money signings with egos that need massaging, ruthless shareholders expecting financial glory and the media waiting to snipe from the sides.

Yet the best managers keep all groups happy while also creating their football philosophy that becomes part of the game’s nomenclature – see heavy metal football, for example.

Teachers don’t have it easy, either: classes of children with, er, boundless energy, who need controlling; governors expecting results; parents expecting greatness; and Facebook groups where the slightest misstep – real or otherwise – is poured over and criticised.

Yet, like managers, they get the job done, they take on all manner of extra responsibilities and they engage in creating their own teaching ideals and philosophies. Perhaps we just need heavy metal teaching next?

4. Obsessing over league tables

Who’s top of the league? How many games in hand do we have? What’s our goal difference? If we made "outstanding" in our next Ofsted report, how many more pupils might we attract?

OK, these two types of league tables may not quite match up, but it shows that for any teacher dreaming of managerial stardom, or football manager considering teaching stardom, you won’t escape the importance of league tables.

5. But can they do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke?

As any teacher who works in Stoke on a cold Tuesday night will attest: yes, they can.

Dan Worth is senior editor at Tes

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