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Jo Keeler

Belbin Associates


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Shrugs vs. hugs – what could Fabio Capello learn from Diego Maradona?


England's early exit from the World Cup 2010 has set tongues wagging, and fingers firmly pointing... in the direction of Fabio Capello. Despite being armed with individuals who boast outstanding records in the Premier League, Fabio seemed unable to combine their talents to produce results.

Why was Terry pushing forward and why did Gerrard keep straying in from the left, leaving Rooney stranded and unsupported? Because the players are comfortable and perform best in a certain position. When forcibly removed from it, we see Team Role strain. The gaps which were left in the team's defence were rather too visually represented time and again.

As well as rumours of arguments in the dressing-room, players protested as they were substituted off and communicated poorly with one another, leaving David James to turn the air blue as he tried to add cohesion to the team. When Argentina played Mexico later in the day, it was a different story. Maradona hugged and kissed his players, entirely given over to his passion for the game. When Tevez scored, he went straight to his manager to celebrate - a testament to the strength of their working relationship.

So, in Team Role terms, what went wrong? Back in March 2009, we asked people to complete an Observer Assessment with their most and least effective manager in mind. This time, we don't have that luxury. Our opinions on Fabio Capello are influenced by press conferences, newspapers, pundits on the TV and radio, and his body language at the side of the pitch. Who of us knows him well enough to complete an Observer Assessment on him? However, some phrases do seem to hit the mark:

"Single-minded, self-starting and dedicated"
"Takes an interest in detail"
"Inability to recover situation with good humour or apology"

In other words, we think Mr. Capello is probably a Shaper/Specialist (with perhaps some Completer Finisher) and he doesn't appear to be a particularly good example of the type! He shows very little evidence of behaviour associated with the three social Team Roles.

Our survey (which can be downloaded from the link at the bottom of this post) highlights that social roles are crucial to effective management. Perhaps this is why Sir Bobby Robson stood out... and Jose Mourinho, for that matter.

Results from the survey:
The survey respondents generally saw those who had the qualities of encouragement of
others, broadness of outlook, creativity, persuasiveness and a challenging nature as the most effective managers
of their experience.

By contrast, they saw those who were inflexible, not interested in others and manipulative as being the common characteristics of the least effective managers. Being co-operative, caring and realistic were words very little associated with the least effective managers.

What next for England?

When thinking about the roles required of a future England manager, many spring to mind. Perhaps this means that there are two jobs here? A Specialist Coach and a Co-ordinator Manager, with accountability shared and Team Roles balanced? Certainly, a new Co-ordinator Manager would need to be able to identify talent, listen to the players and give them the room and encouragement to flourish. Add a bit of Shaper for drive and a smidgen of Plant for creativity, and there you have it!

If anyone from the FA wants to use Belbin Team Roles as part of their selection process, we would be delighted to help....

To download our survey visit:

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Jo Keeler


Read more from Jo Keeler

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