Football: Chris Hutchings – The Challenge of The Number Two

So Chris Hutchings and Wigan part company. After a mere twelve games at the helm. On a downward spiral after a promising start, Dave Whelan has been ruthless. He has seen the Championship trap door and acted.

And once more it highlights the challenge that comes with making the Number Two into the Number One. Sammy Lee. Peter Grant. Now Chris Hutchings. All excellent Number Two’s. All failed to make the step up this season.

In fact there are very few good Number Two’s who make the successful transition. Geraint Williams at Colchester. Phil Brown at Hull City. Steve McClaren of course. But there aren’t many. Being the Number Two calls for different qualities to the boss. You need to be a confidant to the players. Play good cop to the bosses bad cop. Brian Kidd to Sir Alex Ferguson. Peter Taylor to Brian Clough. A man the players can trust. Can go to in confidence. Feel understood by. The bridge betwen manager and players. And of course, be a good coach.

But being a good Number Two does not mean that you have what it takes to be the boss. You need strategic skills. Leadership qualities. Excellence in motivation and communication. Tactical nous. And be able to create some distance between yourself and the players. Players you were once very close too. It’s not an easy transition.

It must be tempting for the good Number Two to want to be the boss. To take the ultimate responsibility. To stand or fall on your results. To no longer be in the background. But to resist that temptation, takes strength of character. Strength of character that recognises what you are best at. And accepts that.

Chris Hutchings sacking is a reminder to all chairmen that, however popular the Number Two is with the players, that popularity does not easily translate into being an effective manager and leader.

Posted in Football Psychology, Sports Psychology Blog.