David Moyes – Managing Motivation!

"David Moyes"April 2014, and David Moyes is sacked as the manager of Manchester United. It’s a big story in the world of football, but in all the coverage I spotted a point about personal motivation. My motivation, and your motivation…

A manager being sacked in football is not a massive story normally, it happens all the time. The managerial merry-go-round turns from one season to the next. It was supposed to be different at Man United though.

Sir Alex Ferguson had been the manager for over 25 years, building a legacy as one of, if not *the* best British manager ever, and when he announced he was retiring, he personally chose David Moyes as his successor. A banner of Moyes with the words ‘The Chosen One’ was placed on a stand in the ground, and with a 6 year contract it was assumed that the stability model would be maintained.

It didn’t start that well for Moyes, He had a hard time in the transfer market, so there was a perception that he was starting the season without a strong enough squad, and he got rid of the previous backroom staff, which alienated a lot of players.

It’s not unusual for managers to do that, they want to bring in their own people, but the new staff didn’t seem to gel with the players, and comments appeared in the press about dislike of his methods.

That would never have been allowed by the hard rod of Ferguson, who simply froze any player out if they disagreed with him, and it didn’t matter how famous the player was – David Beckham, anyone?

It looked early on that Moyes had lost the real support of the players, and it also looked like he was slightly out of his depth with the scale and expectation at the club, and this is where we get the point I want to focus on…

When United played Liverpool, Moyes said that Liverpool were probably the favourites. To say that Liverpool and United are arch enemies is probably an understatement, and although Moyes was probably right, it was the fact that he said it that caused the problems.
"David Moyes"
He was being honest, and maybe he said it with the idea of motivating his players, but one reaction I saw in the media said that Alex Ferguson would never had said those words before playing Liverpool. Never, never, never.

Ferguson would have said ‘Liverpool are playing ok, maybe, but we expect to beat them’

It’s all about the attitude. Attitude changes actions, and actions change results, both in football and in life. Moyes’ attitude to hard work has never been questioned during his many years at his previous club, and his expectation was probably that he and his players would work as hard as they could with every as much chance of winning that game.

The perception of his attitude was not that though. His choice of words looked like he thought Liverpool were better, and the rivalry between the clubs is such that despite all Ferguson’s other achievements, it was overtaking Liverpool in the record books that crowned them all for United.

With that being the case, for Moyes to say he thought Liverpool were better hit alarm bells that he simply didn’t have the same levels of expectation suitable for United. Had results gone better he would undoubtedly got away with it, a top 4 finish would have been ok, but with their worst performance in the Premier League since it began, the writing was on the wall for Moyes.

He probably would have been sacked 3 or even 4 months ago had it not been for the club’s desire for consistency, for all their fanfare of the ‘chosen one’, but once the club were mathematically unable to finish in the top 4, he was sacked, and read about it in the press before being told himself.

Let’s not feel too sorry for Moyes. He’s a multi millionaire, football has been good to him, and we’ll see him back earning more millions at another club. No, the point of this article is about expectation and attitude, and the words you use to reflect them.

Yes, the words *you* use. Your words tell people about your attitudes, just as much as your actions, and you can choose your words just as you can choose your attitudes. So, look to your attitudes and the words you use to reflect them to others, and the words you use to reflect them to yourself – do you hear negativity from yourself, or positivity?

Do let me know what you think, I love the feedback!
‘Til Next time,
Health & happiness,
P.S. I write about attitude in my book ‘Transform Your Life in 21 Days!’

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  • Ah yes. Words that allow us to communicate; or not. I tend to be a people watcher and listener. I can understand why some come across as negative. For example, a couple is ordering a pizza. The woman turns to the man and says, “You don’t want mushrooms on it, do you?” Is she telling man he doesn’t want mushrooms, or is she really meaning that she would prefer not to have mushrooms?

    Sometimes it is better to say nothing at all.

    • The power of words is just amazing, and Moyes’ words were able to be used as a summary of him being the wrong person for the job by some people. Fairly harsh, but in such a high profile job, it comes with the territory!

    • Thanks Amaia,
      Alex Ferguson was well known for playing word mind games with the opposition and officials, and it could be thatMoyes was trying to do the same, but it backfired rather! I’m always amazed at how many people say they *can’t* change to more positive words, it’s definitely a good thing to do!
      Cheers, Gordon

  • The power of words. I find it fascinating how sometimes changing just one word can change the context of the attitude perceived. So in this case the motivation. Something to ponder further 🙂

    • yes, and although Ferguson is unlikely to have said those words, he would have got away with it because of his track record. Moyes happened to say it at the wrong time, compounding any problems.
      Cheers, Gordon