Some saves, you engage with. They arouse the emotions: excitement, hope, jubilation, even love (and the greatest of these is love) – but also the negative emotions, such as anger and frustration.
Others saves leave you cold. They grind on without ever catching fire. You go through the motions, try the usual things — but it all just feels flat.
What explains the difference? Why is it that some saves ignite, while others remain tepid at best?
The obvious answer is success. Gaining promotion, winning trophies and plaudits — these things, surely, account for engagement?
In my experience, it’s not that simple. It is true that success, at some minimal level, is a necessary condition. FM doesn’t allow you to stand still for very long: if you remain at a club then sooner or later the board will ratchet up the expectations and you’ll need to produce, otherwise you’ll be fired and have nothing left to engage with.
But beyond that minimal level, the relationship between success and engagement can be rather loose. When I managed Volendam (Holland), I enjoyed what I’d normally consider a sufficient degree of success. But when the save became corrupted, so I could no longer play it, it came as a blessed relief. Of my decade-long tenure I can remember almost nothing.
In fact, the causal relationship between success and engagement may run the other way. Engagement brings forth an attention to detail that in turn makes for high performance.
So there must be other factors in play. In fact, I think there are four. What they are, I will explore in the subsequent posts in this mini-series.