And so, after a mere fifteen games in charge, Wayne Rooney is sacked as manager of Birmingham City.
With the Blues spiralling towards the relegation zone, the American ownership group, took the decision to relieve the England icon of his duties
There was a promise to deliver ‘no fear football’ to the Blues faithful. Which may have eventually happened. But the question is how do you transition from the defensive solidity of a John Eustace team to no fear football?
A transition is by nature something that involves small measurable steps. Steps that are easily absorbed and integrated methodically.
Transitions require Patience. That is the team leading the Transition need Patience.
Transitions need good explanations. Teachings. Coachings. Messaging.
They need a learning environment.
Transitions need awareness of how well the group both learns and is learning. This is key.
If you are a fast learner like Wayne Rooney then you might miss this point. Because you take it that others learn like you do.
Therefore you need a strong Management Team that can spot the things you can’t. Recognise that some players aren’t grasping what you want them to do as easily as others.
So you slow down the transition. Instead of trying to play ‘no fear football’ now, make it an 18 month projection. Broken down into Transition Phases.
So that you’re slowest learners don’t get left behind. For if they do, and they are influential in the playing group, you can very quickly start to lose more than a few players.
Your status as an England icon buys you a short amount of time. But the moment the players feel that you don’t understand their learning experience, then it counts for nothing. You are just another manager on the football roadshow.
And ultimately this falls at the feet of the Ownership Group. Sacking John Eustace whilst in sixth place. Because they didn’t like his style. Presumably.
And then expecting an instant transition to ‘no fear football’.
Wayne Rooney’s mistake. Promising to deliver it. Without knowing the capability of his players to deliver what he envisioned. In a matter of months.
Maybe they could have done in time. But, as a leader, never underestimate the time Transitions require. And be fully aware of the micro-detail on the journey that tells you whether the players are hearing you. Or not!