Sheffield United: Why reputation and respect are important

Chris Morgan, United's interim boss, commands plenty of respect
Chris Morgan, United's interim boss, commands plenty of respect

The leadership style of Sheffield United’s new manager will determine whether he commands instant respect in the dressing room, a leading academic has explained.

Dr Andrew Manley, whose research includes analysing the relationship between professional athletes and their coach, told The Star that enjoying the support of other influential figures within football could also influence how Danny Wilson’s successor is perceived by members of United’s squad.

“A manager’s reputation can be based on a number of things including success rate such as honours won, qualifications, experience or the coaching and leadership style of the individual concerned,” Dr Manley, of Leeds Metropolitan University, said. “Whether they’re authoritarian or democratic.

“Our research is still trying to identify the sources of reputation information managers can use to gain players’ attention, trust and respect but initial findings suggest success rate and experience being particularly influential in getting them to respond favourably to a new coach.”

Many of those vying to replace Wilson, who left United last month, possess varying degrees of experience. But, according to Dr Manley, patronage can also be a powerful tool.

“One factor that does seem to influence the power of reputation effects is whether or not that reputation s conveyed to the players through a credible and reliable source,” he continued. “Take David Moyes’ appointment at Manchester United where it’s speculated that he was recommended by Sir Alex Ferguson.

“Regardless of Moyes’ track record, such a ringing endorsement from someone viewed by the players there as a reliable and trustworthy judge of competence is likely to help create the kind of favourable impression that will help him follow in Fergie’s footsteps rather than live in his shadow.”

Although Dr Manley acknowledged the power of reputation can diminish over time - “One aim of our ongoing projects is to identify how long these coaching reputations last” - he said: “When we form impressions of other people, we often to do using ‘schemas’ which are a kind of stereotype about how we’d expect someone to behave given the limited information we might have about them.

“That’s why, if a coach has previously been successful, we’re likely to predict they’ll continue to achieve with a new crop of players.

“These predictions are often relied upon when we’re under time pressure. This might explain why athletes are susceptible to these effects given the other demands on their attention like skill development, training load and worries about team selection.”