What can football managers teach business?

Managers at the launch of the 2016/17 Premier League season Image copyright Getty Images

Managers in the Premier League face a level of scrutiny that would make your average chief executive shudder. So with the new season upon us, what can the guy frantically gesturing on the touchline teach us?

We asked professors at some of Europe's leading business schools for their business lessons from football management.

You can see part one of their advice from the first 10 club managers here. Here's part two.

Manchester United - Jose Mourinho

Will the arrival of the turnaround specialist at Old Trafford see the return of winning ways at Manchester United?

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Jose Mourinho has a proven track record of achieving results in the first two years after taking the helm at a new club, but a question mark remains about his ability to build an enduring legacy of success.

A lavish spending spree shows his ability to attract talent, including this week's signing of Paul Pogba for a world record £89m.

For Dirk van Dierendonck at the Rotterdam School of Management, the bigger challenge is to now ensure that his star recruits live up to their eye-watering salaries.

"In any business you have to differentiate between hiring someone and getting them to perform.

"From fund managers to footballers, these individuals can make millions elsewhere so you are paying what they think they are worth. But a manager cannot assume that they will immediately click - they have to fit with the team's culture or style of play."

Van Dierendonck says that Mourinho needs to give his players a sense of doing something for a greater good.

"People are incentivised because they feel a strong alignment with a club or company and their teammates. If life is just about making money then you are missing something. You also need to feel joy in what you are doing."

Middlesbrough - Aitor Karanka

From the tea lady to the trainees, Aitor Karanka insists on professionalism and a winning mentality from everyone at the Riverside.

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With inventive training methods and shrewd pre-match preparation, he is clearly a disciple of his former boss Jose Mourinho. And much like his mentor, he also has a temper and has fallen out with some of his players on the way to the Premier League.

Those dressing room wounds can take time to heal, and any business leader needs to carefully manage the delicate balance of their team, according to Prof Josep Franch at Esade Business School in Barcelona.

"You are bringing together a diverse mix of personalities, and have to build trust to maximise their performance. This is particularly true for the younger team members, and a good manager will help them to keep their feet on the ground and focus on the challenge at hand.

Franch's best advice to move beyond a tempestuous time, and put potentially damaging confrontation behind you is to keep an open dialogue.

"A manager needs to sit down with unhappy staff and put things in order by setting clear expectations. They need to come away with the understanding that you are trying to bring out the best part in them."

Southampton - Claude Puel

Claude Puel is unknown to the Premier League, but what we do know about his managerial past in France suggests that he has been appointed because he is unlikely to indulge in any major changes to Southampton's successful approach to top flight football.

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But what can leaders in the business world learn from the Saints?

"We all know that securing and retaining the best talent can be the key to real competitive advantage," explains Sonal Minocha, pro vice-chancellor at Bournemouth University.

"What this often leads to is a constant, unimaginative fight over a relatively small number of individuals and bidding wars which push salaries ever upwards."

Southampton have stepped away from this by conducting in-depth research into the talent market and using the knowledge they gain to target less obvious players, who they can pick up fairly cheaply and then invest in their training and development.

The custom-built, high-tech suite known as the "Black Box" is at the heart of their recruiting and assessment approach. Software is constantly fed with statistics, scouting reports and staff input, and helps the club to target players who fit "the Southampton way".

"Understanding that 'best suited' and 'most high profile' don't necessarily mean the same thing is something that many business leaders should be thinking about too," Minocha reminds us.

Stoke City - Mark Hughes

Boil down the basic principles of successful football management and you come back to the idea of telling your team to score more goals than the opposition.

But what if you want to do so with style?

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Under Mark Hughes' predecessor, Tony Pulis, Stoke City were known for their combative approach, but since taking over the club three years ago Hughes has set about changing the playing style to introduce a greater level of finesse.

And as the Potters complete a decade of Premier League football this season, Hughes can point to three consecutive finishes in the top half of the table, with more possession, more shots per game, and more goals than before.

Changing the underlying culture and approach of any business is among the hardest challenges for a manager. Harvard Business School (HBS) professor John Kotter has spent a lifetime observing leaders and organisations as they were trying to transform their strategies, and he identifies eight steps to successful change.

They include the need to build a sense of urgency that will inspire people to move, and clear communication to get the buy-in of both staff and directors. And then you don't let up, showing persistence to make change stick, and reinforcing the approach through recruitment.

HBS and consulting firms such as McKinsey charge a small fortune for such advice. As one of the lowest paid managers in the Premier League, Hughes looks like one of the best signings Stoke have made.

Sunderland - David Moyes

Dubbed the "Chosen One" when he first took over at Manchester United, David Moyes endured a gruelling 10 months before being relieved of his duties.

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A dismal Spanish hiatus followed at Real Sociedad. But now Moyes is back in the Premier League with Sunderland, and all eyes will be on him.

For Chris Carter, chair in strategy and organisation at the University of Edinburgh Business School, Moyes was handed a poisoned chalice when he succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson.

"Moyes is a highly intelligent man and would have been aware of the dangers associated with the succession.

"Replacing a long-standing leader is always fraught with danger and seldom ends well. But it can also be compounded when succession planning involves leaving the decision to the departing manager."

The Van Gaal years may have painted Moyes' tenure in a more positive light, suggesting the problems at the club were perhaps more deep-seated than originally thought.

"But," says Carter, "his fundamental failing was not developing a clear enough story about himself to stop the fans and changing room dwelling on the legend of his predecessor. At Sunderland, he needs to ask: what makes him different? And why should people believe in him?"

Carter calls Moyes an "authentic football person" and part of a proud history of successful Scottish managers at the top of English football, with a "guy next door persona". He thinks these are useful tools to build goodwill and Moyes needs to take advantage of them.

Swansea - Francesco Guidolin

With a coaching career that goes back more than 30 years, Francesco Guidolin took on his 17th team when he joined Swansea in January 2016.

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Over three decades he has built a reputation for a studious, hyper-tactical mind, and as a keen amateur cyclist he is not afraid of taking the harder path if that means it will toughen up his players.

Indeed, Guidolin is credited with discovering what is now the most difficult stage of the Giro d'Italia cycle race when he took his players into the mountains for training.

Andrea Masini, dean of the MBA programme at HEC Paris, says Guidolin is not afraid to change his tactics to adapt to the players at his disposal. "He uses a system of continuous improvement and quality management rather than radical transformation."

Masini also points to Guidolin's technique of setting ambitious but achievable targets as a valuable leadership lesson.

"Once the team has achieved the target he then pushes the bar a little higher. A 10% improvement on a measurable goal then leads to the next 10% improvement. Each small step is validated by data and instills the belief in his team that they are going to make the impossible possible."

Tottenham Hotspur - Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino has gained respect for getting the best out of young players. He is particularly credited with developing several academy players all the way into the first team at both Tottenham and Southampton.

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For Dr Chia-Jung Tsay at the UCL School of Management, hiring wisely and nurturing young talent are critical to the success and even viability of an organisation and its people.

And she says that a focus on training produces desirable results. "This can offset the human bias shown in hiring, and underscores the critical role of mindful hard work, not just the sheer natural talent that may sway scouts and recruiters alike," she says.

Tsay also believes that any business can benefit from greater investment in homegrown talent and efforts to keep that talent. She points to recent investment analysis that suggests star performers often suffer a decline in achievement after a move.

"Given that top performance may not be entirely portable, businesses can do well to consider Pochettino's example, and examine how they can better support the development of their own star performers."

Watford - Walter Mazzarri

If the chief executives of publicly listed companies think that their position is tenuous they might spare a thought for football managers.

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The revolving door hasn't stopped spinning at Vicarage Road, where new Italian coach Walter Mazzarri is the eighth manager in the last four years.

So how do you build a strategy when you are sitting on the ejector seat? Andrea Masini at HEC Paris says that Mazzarri needs to secure a few quick wins to buy time for the future.

"You cannot start planning for the long term without some early successes. That means immediately focusing on your strengths, and differentiating your strategy with each game or market you operate in.

"As the underdog playing away against one of the big clubs your goal should be to impress with the quality of your game, to build momentum and a positive mood in your team.

"For the easier matches at home you can be more careful with your tactics to make sure you secure valuable points."

The same approach can work in business, explains Masini. "You can be aggressive with a diversification strategy into new markets or new products while exercising greater caution in your main market or your core products, which are the basis of your activity."

West Bromwich Albion - Tony Pulis

The multi-billion pound broadcast rights that make the Premier League the most lucrative in the football world mean that for many managers their first priority is to avoid relegation. Call it the survival instinct.

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And if there is one manager in the Premier League who has earned a reputation for survival management that man is Tony Pulis of West Brom.

Pulis is perhaps the ultimate example of a leader who ignores any ideas of sophistication or showing off, but who believes in getting the job done.

His adherence to the "long ball" style of playing has earned him many critics but it has also allowed him to save struggling clubs such as Stoke, Crystal Palace and now West Brom on what can only be described as "shoestring" budgets relative to the competition.

For Prof Simon Mercado at ESCP Europe it's an approach that can work just as well in business. "Too many corporate leaders fall prey to the latest fad or to a desire to demarcate themselves clearly from their predecessors or peers. And all too often the results are mediocre, if not downright disastrous.

"Better, perhaps, to stick to the basics, to the tried and tested, which you know from experience will work."

West Ham - Slaven Bilic

Perhaps the most well-known aspect of Slaven Bilic's management style is his faith in the power of music as a relaxant and a motivator. Players are encouraged to listen to inspiring pieces during training and before taking to the pitch.

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But while background music is common in many companies in the creative sectors and on factory floors, few business leaders in the West seem keen to follow their opposite numbers in Asia with the introduction of company songs.

So in the absence of music, Prof Simon Mercado at ESCP Europe says that the real lesson corporate leaders could learn from West Ham is the club's expertise in growing its own talent.

"Practically every team in the Premier League pays lip service to this idea and consequently academies which encourage and foster emerging talent are commonplace.

"However, by grasping that investment in this area is essential and that it produces talent that is not just of high quality, but is also completely attuned to the aims, values and approaches of the club, West Ham have created an academy which is second to none. An academy which has produced the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe to name but a few.

"And it's something that can definitely be duplicated in the corporate world if the same level of commitment and investment is available."

So which management style will come out on top this season?

Whoever wins, there is one ingredient for success that Andrea Masini says we all need, and that is luck. In 2010 Claudio Ranieri came within one game of lifting the Italian title, but his luck ran out.

Business schools have not yet found a luck-generating model that they can share with football managers, but, Masini says, they are actively working on it.

This is part of the BBC's regular series, Business Brain. You can read more here.

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