Football Psychology: Paul Ince – Losing Sequences

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Football PsychologyIt was an ugly crowd scene. As Blackpool players trooped off after a dismal away defeat at Oakwell, a group of disgruntled fans gathered to register their disgust at manager Paul Ince. They have witnessed their club, top of the league earlier in the season, plummet headlong towards the lower end of the table.

Many expected Ince to be relieved of his duties after a sequence of only one point in nine games. But no, despite emergency weekend crisis talks with the Chairman, he remains in his post.

It’s a surprising decision by Karl Oyston to maintain faith and trust in Ince’s ability to turn things around. For history is surely repeating itself.

In his previous job at Notts County, Ince also supervised a nine game losing streak that subsequently saw him out of work. At Blackburn Rovers his record was three wins out of seventeen. So his track record in turning around losing sequences is hardly credible.

Karl Oyston is presuming that Ince has the answer to the Blackpool problems. But there is something in his management style that appears to prevent him lucidly analysing the consequences of defeat, and putting in place plans to solve problems.

Perhaps he has such unwavering belief in his own ability, that he is imagining that results will magically turn. But it’s a deeply flawed strategy if that is the case. Losing streaks don’t happen by accident. They are a consequence of both individual and collective player weakness, and the opposition exposing those weaknesses.

The managers job is to spot those weaknesses before they become problems. And find ways to transform those weaknesses into strengths. It’s about having an eye for detail and the ability to recognise when something isn’t working. If Ince hasn’t got these qualities, then he needs to surround himself with people who have. People who aren’t afraid to let The Guvnor know when he has got it wrong.

If Ince doesn’t find a way out of his problems at Blackpool pretty quickly, it will be another failure on the CV. A stellar playing career can earn you a reputation that can sustain some managerial failures.

But reputation cannot cover up what appear to genuine weaknesses in Paul Ince make up as a leader, strategist and tactician. With his career on the line, can Paul Ince set aside his stubborness and admit his mistakes, at least to himself. If he doesn’t, then it’s hard to see much of a managerial future for this proud man.