In many professional sports, coaches and managers are on a merry-go-round of sorts, sacked by one club and immediately scooped up by another.

In competitions like the English Premier League and the NRL, as soon as a team starts losing, fingers start being pointed at whoever is in charge. But how much impact does a coach really have on the results of a team?

It makes you wonder what makes the new club think things will be different for them, if the coach failed at one club why would they not fail at another?

Often we forget how critical the mental side of sport is. You could have 100 athletes, with the same physical strength doing the same amount of training, but there might only be one who has the mental strength and desire to go all the way. Talent is one thing, but making the most of what you have is what takes an athlete to the next level.


The players will not give their all unless the coach can make them want to be there. It's similar to an employee's relationship with their boss. If the boss creates a positive environment which people want to be included in, they will be more productive.

To me, the coach's main responsibility is to nourish that mental strength and desire within each individual athlete for the good of the team. Every player and every coach is different, an approach that works with one group may not work with others.

The reason I have been pondering this recently is I am unashamedly a massive Manchester United fan. I have been since I was a child when I realised my name was similar to David Beckham's.

The 1990s and early 2000s, under Sir Alex Ferguson, were a happier time. I was often labelled a glory hunter, only supporting them because they were winning.

However, since Ferguson retired in 2013, numerous managers have tried and failed to emulate what he achieved. Most recently Jose Mourinho, whose strict control and heavy handed disciplinary approach won him titles all over the world, but he struggled in Manchester. It has been years since I was called a glory hunter.

Mourinho was fired and next up to the plate was United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who, during his playing days, became famous for being a "super-sub", the ultimate team player and the Ying to Mourinho's Yang.

Solskjaer has been in charge for five games and United have won all five. But, not only have they won, they have played the kind of free-flowing, attacking football made famous by Sir Alex. The exact same group of players as Mourinho was working with seemed to completely transform in less than a week.

Silver Ferns head coach Noeline Taurua speaks to the media. Photo / Getty Images
Silver Ferns head coach Noeline Taurua speaks to the media. Photo / Getty Images

Closer to home, the Silver Ferns faced a similar dilemma last year. Under head coach Janine Southby, performances and therefore results, were the worst they had been in years. The cries for Southby to step down grew louder and louder and in July she resigned.


Up stepped Rotorua's Noeline Taurua, a woman who many were shocked did not even make the short list three years earlier.

Taurua's reign is still very much in its infancy, but she has shown a bold and uncompromising approach which the players appear to have welcomed.

The Constellation Cup in September had its ups and downs, but in an 11-point win over Australia the Silver Ferns showed the signs of life which were absent earlier in the year. Most importantly, the players looked motivated.

Coaches, managers and conveners are just as important at a junior level, but more in terms of nourishing a love for sport than achieving results.

Rotorua's Lake City Athletic Club is a prime example. Since local woman Kelly Albrecht took over as children's athletics convener last year, junior numbers have sky rocketed.

She has an infectious enthusiasm for the sport and for seeing kids give their all, which has been embraced by the children themselves as well as their parents.

The club took 49 juniors to the North Island Colgate Games - one of the largest contingents there - which is a stark contrast to previous years. Albrecht's approach to the event, encouraging the children to support each other and make the most of every opportunity, is the kind of thing that will ensure the majority of those involved fall in love with the sport.