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Moment In 'I Believe In Miracles' Explains A Lot About O'Neill's Management Philosophy

Moment In 'I Believe In Miracles' Explains A Lot About O'Neill's Management Philosophy
By PJ Browne
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"It's well-documented that he doesn't do much team shape or organisational stuff. That's just the way he is. I think that's his management style. I think it's probably going back to what Brian Clough has done to him and he's took that on to his style," said Shay Given on Second Captains shortly before Ireland's World Cup playoff against Denmark.

Given was talking about Martin O'Neill's management philosophy, adding O'Neill would freely admit he doesn't believe in what in modern times is seen as basic preparation for a game such as practising team shape.


Like Given mentioned, O'Neill is very much a student of Brian Clough. The Derryman won two European Cups under Clough at Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980.

In the documentary, 'I Believe In Miracles,' which chronicles the rise of Forest to win both those European finals, there is a segment where Clough's players talk about his management style. It gives a brief and amusing outline of Clough's beliefs - the ones which have coloured how O'Neill approaches management.

Viv Anderson: In Cloughie's era, there was no plan. There's never been a plan. He'd come in before the game and say, 'This is the ball, pass it to a teammate.'

Larry Lloyd: You, you head the ball, you kick the ball and if you have time with the ball at your feet, give it to someone who can play.

Colin Barrett: You get the football and you give it to that little fat bastard on the wing.

John Robertson: He was a genius as far as simplicity is concerned, in the fact that he communicated what he wanted brilliantly.

Martin O'Neill: He spoke about the game being simple; simplicity.

Most amusingly, Kenny Burns related an exchange he had with Clough about what should be done when the team has a free kick.


I says, 'Boss, what are we going to do about free kicks?' He says, 'shoot!' 'Oh, right.'

'What about indirect free kicks?' He says, 'fucking put the ball to the side and then shoot!'

Just like Clough, O'Neill's is a man-manager. His great strength is an ability to extract maximum effort from his team; to make the players want to play for him. With both, tactics seem to be a secondary consideration.


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