At the recent inaugural European Managers & Coaches Forum - hosted by the League Managers Association (LMA) and Castrol, the official performance partner of the LMA - a group of some of the world's most high-profile football bosses gathered at England's St George's Park to discuss the important issues affecting the sport in the 21st Century.
The forum brought together the likes of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, England manager Roy Hodgson, former Three Lions chief Fabio Capello, Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers and LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson to name just five from a list of attendees who have more than 15,000 matches of combined experience.
Over the course of two days, the gathering, supported by other guests, including Mike Riley, general manager of the Professional Game Match Official Ltd (PGMOL), was devoted to the sharing of insight and discussion for all factors which impact the modern football manager.
Here, Sky Sports gains a unique insight into the European Managers & Coaches Forum and continues a series of Q&A interviews with Roy Hodgson and Michael Laudrup. Keep checking Sky Sports for the next in the series of Q&A interviews with different managers.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge that a manager faces in modern-day football?
Michael Laudrup: I think there is not only one thing. But I think it is the communication, the relations, the relations with the media. I do not talk only about the media when you hold a press conference. The media is there every time. Ten or 15 years ago, you could make a statement and it would come out the next day or maybe that night in the news. Nowadays, you make a statement and in two minutes it goes out on Twitter, or Facebook, or whatever, and it is the same with the players. It is 24 hours. Even when we sleep, you have to get the news out so I think communication is very important. Obviously with the players and the media, it is a big part of being a manager. It is not only on the pitch, it is as much off the pitch.
Roy, from your perspective as a national team coach, what would you say is the biggest challenge for a manager?
Roy Hodgson: I have been very lucky. When I started my career in Scandinavia, the pressures on you to survive in the job were a lot less than we see today. We have seen some quite damaging statistics on how difficult it is for someone starting off, having achieved his initial goal of getting a pro-licence and getting a job, to survive for any meaningful length of time so that he can really develop and become the type of manager that people like Ferguson and Arsene Wenger undoubtedly are today. So, I think that is a major, major challenge.
You have both managed in many different countries throughout your careers. Do you feel that there are differences from country to country in terms of the issues that affect managers?
Michael Laudrup: Of course there are differences. Basically, just as Roy is saying. You can work, you can do a lot of things right but it comes down to the result. You can always argue if you lose one, two or five games but you cannot lose too many games or then you are out. Obviously there are still differences in some countries. There are countries where you have less time and where the trigger is very fast and you just have to get out if you do not get the result immediately. There are other places where maybe it is a little more patient.
How important is it for senior managers and younger managers to get together?
Michael Laudrup: Well, I am still relatively young but to meet the people with more experience like Roy, Ferguson and company, I think it is great. You can always learn. I always have that feeling that you are never 100 per cent educated. I had that feeling as a player and I have that even more now as a manager. I think you can always learn more. Perfection does not exist in life and certainly not in football so I think it is always nice to hear other opinions. In some, you agree and in some you do not. But you go home after and you say, 'I really learnt something' and that is what I will do. I will think about what we talked about and I think it has been very useful.
Roy Hodgson: I thought Michael's answer was very good. I do not think that people like Sir Alex or myself come here to impart our views, if you like, or to give advice. That is not the point of it at all. We just come to participate with everyone else who is in the group and who is taking part in the forum. It is nice if a topic comes up where maybe you have some experience and someone who is starting his career can say 'oh, that's interesting. I had not thought about that'. But that certainly is not the objective. Being young, old, or more or less managerially experienced, that, for me, did not play any role whatsoever in my thinking in coming here. I came here to meet colleagues, hear what they have to say and the discussion topics that came up. It is always good to hear what people think.
Which of the topics that were debated at the forum were of particular interest to you?
Roy Hodgson: Of course it is always the technical, tactical that I would say are the most interesting. We just had a very, very interesting module on Financial Fair Play. Now that also is going to be interesting and it was very well presented. But, if I am going to be 100 per cent honest from a personal viewpoint, especially now as a national team coach where you know Financial Fair Play does not even enter in to it, it was more the discussion about how we think football is going to develop over the next 10 years. What we think about the current trends, in particular the fact that the passing in football and the quality of play is undoubtedly improved, certainly in my lifetime as a football coach, it has improved beyond all measure. They are the subjects that I found the most interesting.
Michael Laudrup: I have to be honest. I think all the subjects were very important for me. I think going through technology and through the technical part of the game with the referee, relationships with players, managers and each other, the future of the game - I think they were all very interesting. I think it is important to hear the other managers, their point of view. Sometimes, we as managers, you get in the pre or post-match press conference and there is a topic that can be asked. I answer it (one way) and maybe another manager will answer it differently. You can be misunderstood maybe in the press so I think it is very important that sometimes, once in a while, we come together so we can talk freely about it without the camera on our neck (not knowing) how they will understand our words. So, you can speak freely and I think that's very important.
Roy Hodgson and Michael Laudrup were talking at the Castrol/LMA European Managers & Head Coaches Forum 2013