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A Little Patience
The RamsTrust Column
Written by RamsTrust member Stuart Gibbs in New Zealand   
Monday, January 04 2010

I believe that it was those great philosophers, Guns N' Roses, who told us that 'All it really needs is a little patience'. As Nigel Clough completes his first year as manager of Derby County, we should heed greatly those words.

As I have written in previous articles, I am a Rams fan in New Zealand and I often look at fans' forums to gauge the mood of the folks back home, but lately, it has been something of a waste of time, due to the disturbing number of forum posters who inexplicably believe that by now Clough should have transformed The Rams into a world class side.

Admittedly, I know little about football management, but I do know about management and I would like to point out some of the parallels between my experiences and those that football managers may also share.

In my second year here in Auckland, I took my first management post, as head of music at one of South Auckland's toughest areas. I won't name it, or the area, but if you have ever watched the movie 'Once Were Warriors', then you'll have an idea of what I was dealing with! Upon arrival, I found that my predecessor had retired with a nervous breakdown, the exam pass rates were below twenty percent, the guitars had no strings, trumpet mouthpieces had been stolen for illicit drug use... and there was a dead rat in the piano! All I knew was that I could not do any worse. This, indeed, was a team at the bottom of the league.

Students were de-motivated and saw no point in being there, my instrumental teachers were a pair of amateur jokers who could not actually read music and there had been no entries in local school talent competitions. Just like a football manager, I had to get my team playing to a higher standard by improving their skills and confidence, whilst also finding a way of moving on my backroom staff and replacing them with better professionals.

At the end of my first year, results were poor and I got an ear-bashing from the senior management. I suppose if I'd been a football manager, I might well have been sacked. Fortunately for me, teachers are not so easily dismissed and I set about improving both myself and my music department. I bought the best guitars, keyboards, drums, etc. that my limited budget could afford, set high standards for my instrumental teachers to let them know what was expected, then started to monitor them, whilst also having a good look at their contracts. In the end, both of them left and I was able to hire two really outstanding musicians.

With my 'coaching staff' in place, I could build up my 'players' and within two years we were entering local talent competitions. Okay, so we went out in the auditions on our first attempt, but the year after that, we got through to the regional finals (I guess you could call that our 'cup run'!) Exam pass rates went up and within three years the number of upper sixth form students taking music went from three to fifteen. By the time I left, it was a music department to be proud of.

Did those of you who think that one year's work is enough to judge Nigel Clough notice that it took me three years to turn it around? Just like a football manager, it took three years of improving the skills of my players, using my annual budget wisely, wrangling with contracts so that I could dismiss the staff who were of no use and then hire the people I knew would do things the right way, learning from my setbacks and improving the overall running of my department, then improve my results. All one day at a time.

The Rams are averaging a new manager every year - just look how many we have had since Jim Smith's departure - and now look at where it has got us. If we want things to improve, then we have to be patient. My music department was a mess when I inherited it and it was never going to be right within a mere year - likewise, if we wish to see a Derby County renaissance that is built on stone foundations (and not the desert sands provided by Billy Davies) then we should give Nigel Clough the time he truly needs to get things how he wants them.

Now, where's that Guns N' Roses album... ?

 

This column is for individual members of RamsTrust to put their point of view across in the media. Although the views will not contravene the principles of the trust, the views expressed are entirely personal to the author and do not necessarily represent RamsTrust policy.

 
 
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