A football club manager in Brazil does not know why he hires such a coach, nor does he know why he fires him. One could already imagine, considering that the country’s Serie A is among the ones that send coaches away the most in the world, but now new evidence of this pattern is emerging.
It will probably astonish human resources professionals – or anyone who has participated in selection processes in large companies in other industries – to learn that, in football, clubs operate without any structure to define signings.
Presidents make contact with coaches by appointment of businessmen just to make them the financial proposal, without questioning any aspect of the work: game model, training methodology, needs and expectations. When they dismiss, these top hats do not conduct the dismissal, nor do they know how to justify internally and externally the reasons for it.
Coach’s clipboard: professionals don’t know why they arrive and leave clubs — Photo: Monique Silva
This modus operandi was investigated in academic work conducted by Matheus Galdino, scientific master in sports management, who teaches at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. The study had the collaboration of Lara Lesch and Pamela Wicker and was published, in English, in the scientific journal Sustainability. O ge presents its first-hand results for Brazil.
The first stage of this study was quantitative. In it, with data since the implementation of running points and the adoption of 20 clubs in the Brazilian Championship, it was possible to verify that there are at least 30 changes of coaches at each tournament. This cut does not consider the entire year, but only the course of the competition.
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The second stage – unprecedented and detailed in this content that has just been published – is qualitative. Galdino interviewed 26 coaches with experience in the national first division. The conversations took place between January 21 and April 16, 2021. All gave testimonies anonymously, so that they could speak freely about the experiences they had over the last few decades.
Total number of coaches changed in the Brazilian Championship
Even in the most “quiet” years, at least 30 coaches are fired during competition
Source: Matheus Galdino
The average age of these coaches is 54 years old, and each of them played an average of 137 matches in the Brazilian Championship. They were in all 43 clubs that competed in the first division between 2003 and 2020. Other signs of sample quality: 69% had experiences outside Brazil, and 35% played for the Brazilian national team – main or base.
These coaches were questioned in relation to two moments: recruitment and termination of the football club. Club and officer names have been converted to comprehensive and generic descriptions to ensure the confidentiality of their reports.
Although selection methods vary, described Galdino in his academic work, recruitment techniques in companies often include standardized or behavioral interviews, aptitude and cognitive ability tests, personality analysis, work portfolio or previous projects, in addition to the possibility of consulting. specializing in personal assessment.
As a key part of a department that employs dozens of people, and moves hundreds of millions of reais a year, the technician’s role carries even more complexity. He would need to be aligned with the needs and objectives of the administration, and he should be evaluated, before joining, about the internal and external relationships that he will have to face in the position.
In practice, coaches interviewed for this survey described manager approaches as “brief and random”. They also frequently cite “lack of professionalism” and “lack of technical knowledge” on the part of employers.
– Most of the time it happens fast, after all someone fell and they need an urgent replacement. Soon, they start talking about names and doing research in the media. I’ll be honest. There were very few who took a technical approach. For example, chatting with me before my conversation with the president. Usually someone calls someone already close to the president making a proposal and wanting to know if I accept – said a technician.
Regarding the selection method, the most frequent argument was that “there is no selection process”. Most respondents said there is no conversation or interview prior to hiring. One of them complained in particular about top hats who want to negotiate hiring at lunches. Indications of entrepreneurs usually prevail over technique.
In general, recruitment is carried out through a brief telephone call or face-to-face meeting. Officials speak generically of “projects”, without going into sporting or budgetary details. Even in less frequent face-to-face conversations, their content boils down to the financial proposal, which involves the salary and contractual fine.
– I was never interviewed. Do you believe that? I worked on 200 teams! It’s a ridiculous business. How do I play, what is my line of work, management, range, psychology, concept, what do I think, game model? Nothing nothing nothing! Never, from the heart. It’s a shame. In fact, there are several ways in which the invitation is given. Once in the South I got a call from a friend. In another case, also in the South, a leader sat here for a coffee saying that I had to assume the position because I would be his political shield and I was going to receive five players (who never arrived). On another occasion, the phone rang because the first option they thought of didn’t hit, so the president called me, so I arrived and signed. Do you see the overthrow of the thing as it is? But then we make mistakes too, right?
How does the manager choose the coach of his choice? When conducting the interviews, Galdino identified five foundations for decision-making by managers. Are they:
- Availability: Technician’s inclination to assume the position
- Recent Results: Reading is restricted to lose or win
- Popularity: perception of fans and press about the person
- Average salary: how much you promise to pay and what is the fine to terminate
- Position analysis: speculative judgment of the manager about objectives
– Nobody asks a lot what your ideas are, what you understand, what and how you intend to implement it, or how much time you need. This discussion never happens. It is usually like this: “Our expectation is to try to win the state title, fight for the Brazilian, this is the squad, we are changing that and we have this margin to hire”. There is never a discussion in the technical sense. For example, they could ask me like this: “We want to play this way. Are you able to deliver this?” Or, “We don’t know how we want to play, but what’s your job? How do you want to play? How do you develop this? What are the steps? How do you understand that we should build the cast?” – reported one of the coaches.
Asked about the reasons given by top hats to justify the dismissals, the coaches interviewed by Galdino said that there is “not the slightest sign of conviction”, that the managers “act out of interest at all levels” and that “they just fire the coach to satisfy who follows from outside”. There is also inconsistency in the assessments.
– In Brazil there is a need to create labels about the coach, putting us in boxes. My virtue on arrival will become my defect on departure. If I am hired for my training methodology, authorial work and studies, invariably all these qualities will become defects. None of them help, as they serve as an argument to point out defects in my output. There is an alternation of styles and ages as the coach changes. When I go out, a coach comes with a job that is simple to understand, who “speaks the footballer’s language”, someone more experienced. When he leaves, everything goes wrong again. In fact, there is nowhere to run – exemplified a coach.
The way you quit matters. The Brazilian researcher described, in the study, how it could occur. Interview, meeting or final evaluation can be tools to understand why the relationship is being interrupted, to seek answers and explain what were the internal methods and indicators applied in the decision. Useful process for both parties.
In fact, technicians are told on phone calls that their services are no longer needed. Sometimes in meetings with people below the president, not with him, most responsible for the administration. Sometimes, the coach finds out about the cancellation by the press, without even having been informed by the people who lead the management of the club.
According to Galdino, there are four items in common in the reports collected by the researchers in this work, regarding the way layoffs are conducted:
- External pressure: exerted by fans, journalists and influencers
- Internal pressure: exerted by players, sponsors and political groups
- Communication: lack of transparency, justification and even contact to dismiss
- Liability: non-compliance with agreed contracts and payments
The lack of accountability of managers is placed by professionals in this position as an incentive to “hire and fire”. Coaches leave their positions without having received the promised salary, sometimes not even the contractual fine, so they open lawsuits and wait for them to be executed. One case cited in the study took 19 years for the debt to be paid off.
– There is a structural, financial part, which facilitates the dismissal of coaches. As long as managers are not forced to pay their obligations, they will continue to send coach away non-stop. You can forget about design, good work, competence. They don’t pay anyone! They try to find their luck by switching coaches. “It didn’t work out with this one, I’ll change it now and then I’ll change it again!” I have debts to receive from a club in the Southeast. Do you know when I will receive it? Maybe five years from now, if I go to court. It is in this medium that I operate. It’s easy for the system to treat me as expendable,” a technician said.
There are governance issues. The executive director of football is hired to manage the department from an operational point of view. The vice president of football – an amateur, unpaid and political role – participates in day-to-day decisions. At the time of dismissal, these people are not responsible for the acts that led the team to failure. Only the coach falls.
Also along this line, there are constant complaints from directors regarding the technical unpreparedness of vice presidents and president. As decision-making is driven by internal and external pressures, and not by conviction regarding the professional’s departure, the top hats cannot explain themselves in relation to what they are doing, except for the score of the last game.
– People who act as managers do not have the slightest ability to make an assessment of the work of a coach. In terms of results, it’s easy. These are numbers, a colder analysis. On the other hand, is it just the coach’s job that causes the team not to achieve the results, or are there other components with a greater influence? Most decisions are based entirely on emotions, without involving any rational analysis or anything like that. For example, late salaries have a very big impact on the coach’s day-to-day. You spend your energy in practically a part of the opening of the training to justify, or give a deadline, or create some expectation to bring the player to work and buy time until the managers try to solve that problem, which sometimes is not even solvable. They play from month to month, but the problem remains. I see this inability to read about what happens inside clubs, from practical knowledge about what the coach’s job is – explained one of the coaches.
The result of this culture is the “hire and fire”, in which professionals are turned into easily disposable products. The problems are varied. In the sports field, they prevent the stability necessary for work to progress and generate better results. In terms of finances, they leave clubs in debt and responsible for paying three, four or five coaches at the same time. One in, the other out, and so the football merry-go-round continues to spin.