When I’m assessing a player, how much attention should I give to personality? And how should I think about it?
My answer to the first question is, ‘A lot’. This view stems from my argument, given in my previous post, about attributes: that they do no more than indicate the limits of a player’s capabilities and are unreliable predictors of effectiveness.
Attributes can be undermined by personality. For example, someone who has the capability to play a valuable role in a squad may fail to do because of a lack of professionalism.
So I think of personality as a kind of multiplier: players’ contributions will be proportional to, as it were, the product of their capabilities and their personalities.
But there’s a difficulty here: that multiplication sum only works if we take care over how we assess personality.
In the database I access as manager of at FC Saxan, there are two-score personality types. Now I’ve heard some talk of dividing these into ‘good and ‘bad’ types, with no doubt some in the middle too.
This is a dangerous view, not least because it has some truth in it. Which would you prefer, a ‘model citizen’ or someone who is ‘spineless’? A ‘professional’ or someone who’s lack?
Don’t think there can be much doubt there.
But there are three dangers with this way of thinking.
First, personality types tend each to come with merits and demerits. It can, for example, be great to have an ambitious type: maybe he will help to turn the club from also-rans into trophy winners. But, equally, he may become impatient; or seek to forward his career at the expense of the club; or demand more playing time than his ability merits.
Second, the value of a player’s personality will depend on the make-up of the squad a whole. It’s great, for example, to have a leader – but leaders need followers too. (I even wonder if ‘follower’ might be a better personality descriptor than ‘balanced’.)
Third, the value of a personality type varies according to the club’s situation. In a relegation battle, players who are resilient (or resolute) will be welcome. And a smattering of joviality might be welcome, to relieve the pressure. But then as the club moves up the table and begins to challenge for promotion, ambition might carry a greater premium.
The more I think about football management, the more I feel that nothing has a fixed value: everything – yes, EVERY d****d thing – is contextual.