According to the Telegraph, Ozil has been quoted by Kicker magazine in Germany saying
“I feel very, very good with Arsenal and have shown my willingness to extend my contract with the club. The fans want me to stay. Now it’s down to the club. The club know that I’m here above all because of Arsène Wenger, who brought me here and whose trust in me I enjoy. The club also know that I want to have clarity about what the manager is doing.”
This, unsurprisingly, has sparked reactions among the fan base – hardcore AKB gleefully believing it to be a strike on the WOB, the hardcore WOB perhaps slating our German star, others worrying about the future of the club and so on.
One tweet though, from a well known outspoken fan, got me thinking. He tweeted that a player’s loyalty should be to a club and not a manager.
In an ideal world, that should be the case.
However, is it surprising that a player should be loyal to a manager over a club?
Let’s move away from football for a moment here. In the corporate world, there’s a well known statement – taken from the title of a chapter from a book on leadership and management – that says
People leave managers, not companies.
Gallup’s, a globally leading market research firm, CEO Jim Clifton once said “The single biggest decision you make in your job—bigger than all the rest—is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits—nothing.”
I have personally seen plenty of friends leave good jobs at good companies just because they had had enough of their managers.
The reasons have been various – the manager doesn’t invest in developing his/her subordinate, the manager overworks the employee with absolutely no empathy, the manager is incompetent, the manager does not empower the employee, among others.
Interestingly, most people, especially fresh graduates, usually join companies because of the company’s reputation and then comes the manager; but, leave usually because of the manager unless they have a really good offer from elsewhere knocking on their door.
It’s similar in football, players usually join clubs that they believe is an upgrade on their last club. They may leave because a bigger club comes calling.
However, they may also leave because they’re not getting enough playing time – a decision from the manager. They may leave because they don’t enjoy the role at their club – a decision from the manager. They may leave because they feel their manager does not give them the attention they need or is developing them – a decision from the manager or even just poor management skills on part of the manager.
Ozil came from Real Madrid, so Arsenal was not necessarily an upgrade to him. He, as stated by him, arrived in London because of Wenger. He is also quoted to have said “whose trust in me I enjoy” – Wenger is well known to be a manager that empowers and Ozil obviously values that more than anything else. Arsenal Football Club cannot empower Ozil, only his manager can. Arsenal Football Club cannot keep Mertesacker on the bench, only the manager can.
I have had four different managers in the last five years, before each new manager assumed his role I always had a fear about how much I would be empowered or developed etc. At the end of the day, one wants to enjoy their work.
So, what about those that have stayed loyal to a club and not a manager? The ones that fans love the most because those players obviously share the same love as them – the one football club. It’s something I cannot answer but I do know the questions I would like answered:
- Did they stay loyal because they felt they could not make it at a bigger club?
- Did they stay loyal because they wanted to be associated with that particular club, despite less playing time, rather than be a regular at a club perceived as a smaller one?
- Did they stay loyal because the culture at the club was something they had not experienced before and it suited them?
- Did they stay loyal because it was their boyhood club so that sense of romance was very strong?
- Did they stay loyal simply because they felt it was the right thing to do?
These questions are just off the top of my head but the answers to these questions would still reveal motivational drivers that are at a personal level for those players.
It’s easy for us to say that a player should be loyal to a club, like fans are, but we have to understand that supporting a club is not the same as playing for one.
That line above should have been my ending line but having re-read this post before submission, I just wonder if ‘loyalty’ is even the correct term to be used for terming Ozil’s apparent desire for Wenger to stay on longer. I’ll leave you with this question:
Is it loyalty to Wenger or is it a fear that no other manager will be able to give Ozil what Wenger has been able to?