Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)?

Thinkers value objectivity and make impersonal decisions based on logic. Feelers are more sympathetic towards human aspects, driven by the desire for harmony and team morale. But how do these opposite perspectives apply in the world of football management? Here's a breakdown of six fundamental categories...

Media Interaction

Thinkers tend not to show their emotions when interviewed. They like to remain calm and level-headed, trying to impart a level of objectivity to their summaries (even though the objective is usually to make themselves look better). Ultimately, they seek understanding and like to convey the impression they can explain what’s just happened in a rational way.

Feelers are more excitable and struggle to keep a lid on their emotions. When results are bad, they take criticism (or perceived criticism) personally and show visible signs of pressure much sooner. However, when things are going well, they wax lyrical about players and performances, using hyperbole and exaggerated language to explain their perception of events.

Match Analysis

Thinkers automatically look for faults in their team’s performances, lessons that need to be learned. As such, they are generally quicker to identify the source of a problem whenever form takes a nosedive. They strive to analyse matches objectively, detached from any preconceptions, using statistics or analytics more readily.

Feelers are forever keen to accentuate the positives of a performance, rather than dwell on any negatives. They value their experience of a match as a spectacle and whether it meets the satisfaction of others. So the excitement of a thrilling 4-3 defeat carries more weight than a boring 1-0 defeat, for example. To them, it’s not the same bottom-line outcome.

Match Preparation

Thinkers take a business-like approach. Training sessions are serious business and should be conducted at the highest possible intensity, unless objective circumstances dictate otherwise. They promote a masculine, results-driven environment and training ground spats are not uncommon.

Feelers prefer to create a warm, friendly atmosphere in their working environment. They go out of their way to make players feel special, on the mutual understanding they will perform at their best on a matchday if the build-up hasn’t been too stressful. Thinkers would consider this to be pampering.

Tactical Outlook

Thinkers deal in cold logic. They persistently strive to name the best available 11, in the most effective system, based on physical fitness and technical ability alone. They have less regard for non-football criteria and the emotional wants or needs of the players involved.

Feelers consider interpersonal relationships between players when deciding on team selection, things that outsiders don’t necessarily see or understand. They might be loathe to drop key players, for example, through fear of how it might upset the dynamics of the dressing room and the potential knock-on effects for morale.

Player Recruitment

Thinkers are more likely to call upon objective tools like video analysis software or statistical models when scouting for new players. At the highest level, where they need to work alongside executive directors or transfer committees, they will be quite specific and proactive about making their preferred options known.

Feelers trust their instincts more. They are romantics by and large, which makes them more likely to recruit players based on unfulfilled potential. They invariably believe they can get the best out of any player, so are more likely to embrace players with a troublesome past who possess natural talent.


Thinkers aren’t afraid to put noses out of joint. They can be quite ruthless in the way they deal with players, staying detached from the feedback they give or the decisions they make. They can be brutally honest in a way that might destroy more sensitive players and they tend to make tough decisions much sooner.

Feelers tend to see the good in everybody and they have the capacity to bring the very best out of lost souls. They inspire people through their kindness and generosity of spirit, and their faith in people often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, this strength becomes a debilitating weakness when players fail to reciprocate during a crisis period.

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Daryl McMahon
Daryl McMahon
(Macclesfield Town)
2nd January
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