Taiwan Men’s National team (also known as Chinese Taipei in sport, for political reasons) have just won their first trophy in 59 years. Not really surprising considering, British Football Coach Gary White is in charge. He has a history of performing well as a coach, while achieving good results at the same time.
The CTFA Tournament competed between; Taiwan, the Philippines, Laos and Timor Leste, may be viewed by some as ‘just a friendly tournament’, but when FIFA points and rankings are at stake, there can be no such thing as ‘a friendly’. These tournaments are also great for allowing fringe players or those recovering from injuries to show their worth. Many benefits all wrapped up together. Taiwan won all three of their matches. Since the appointment of Gary White and his team of British Football Coaches, Taiwan’s record reads; Played 6, Won 5, Drawn 0, Lost 1. The lone game which gave defeat by a single goal, was an Away Match Vs Turkmenistan in the Asian Cup Qualifiers. The defeat was witnessed by neutrals and fans alike. Many were left confused, by some conspicuous officiating throughout the game. Following a previous giant victory against the group leaders Bahrain, the Turkmenistan hit was more damaging. This is football, these things can happen. Having been written off for qualification prior to Gary White's arrival, Taiwan came within a whisker of achieving the deniable. Within the space of a few weeks, Taiwan were woken from the team who first got smashed 5-0 by Bahrain. Fully awake, they returned the favour to Bahrain with a 2-1 win. Performance and results.
Now, to check the credibility of ‘performance and results’ against the ‘new coach motivation, success factor’ in this instance, let’s take a look at past performances and results of teams under Gary White (only roles of Head Coach/Manager);
1998 – British Virgin Islands Men’s National Team. Team moves up 28 places to their highest ever FIFA Ranking at the time.
1999 – Bahamas Men’s National Team. Team moves up 55 places to their highest ever FIFA Ranking at the time.
2012 – Guam Men’s National Team. Team reached their highest FIFA rankings ever and secured some notable results;
4 match unbeaten run of
Taiwan 0-3 Guam
Laos 1-1 Guam
Cambodia 0-2 Guam
Aruba 2-2 Guam
The 'history making' run to qualify for the World Cup Qualifiers, and then some great results during them;
Guam 0-0 Macao
Guam 2-0 Mongolia
Guam 5-0 Northern Mariana Islands
Taiwan 1-2 Guam
Hong Kong 0-0 Guam
Guam 1-0 Turkmenistan
Guam 2-1 India
Guam 0-0 Oman
2016 – Shanghai Shenxin, China League One. Joined the club in the relegation zone, with no transfers and ill-balanced squad. After accumulating 29 points, the team missed out on a 4th place finish by three wins. The team was more than saved from relegation after finishing in 9th place. Funnily enough, the Spanish coach who took over for the next season was given a full pre-season with the squad, and all of his own transfer dealings. They finished the league on the same 40 points as Gary’s previous reign.
2017 – Taiwan Men’s National team. To be continued.
Gary White’s appointments across a span of twenty years, show competence in getting results, often with minimal resources. They show an ability to perform consistently within a range of different factors and variables. When this happens, it generally means the coach is of good quality. It’s difficult to judge what makes a quality coach or manager, as success can be interpreted in a number of different ways. It’s rare that any one coach could have success throughout every single year of their career. If they do, was there underlying factors to help them achieve; e.g, did they always coach at the richest clubs, or at the best clubs in the weakest leagues? We can look from another angle and ask if a coach can only win with the best teams, or can they also perform well with teams who shouldn’t do so well (Jose Mourinho’s, 2010 Inter Milan Treble winners spring to mind).
Whatever the different perceptions of success, this time in age, a coach must be of quality to survive. In this present day, the type of quality isn’t just about winning a few games, winning a title, having a good season, surviving relegation or having a top playing history as a professional (although we could argue it seems this way at times). It must go deeper than that. There must be a longevity to a side of human nature, which encourages players to trust you. That trust is needed for staff to follow you, and the same for a team’s shareholders (not just supporters) to believe in you. An ego is needed at times, but egos must be balanced out with humility. Should your ego turn into stubbornness, it can lead to misery on and off the pitch while consuming everyone.
Coaching can be over complicated by tactics, vocabulary and knowledge from the latest ‘Top 10’ bestselling books. Before any meaningful tactics can be worked on, before any fancy vocab can impress and before that book knowledge can be used, a first step is needed. When was the last time you eagerly wanted to do something, asked of you by a stranger? When was the last time you were happy doing something you didn’t want to, which was asked of you by that same stranger? How many times would you allow this stranger to give you orders, before you started getting pretty pissed off? Well, this might just be that first step. The missing link!
People are strangers because you don’t know them. You may know of or about them, but you don’t know them. If you don’t know a person, how on earth can you lead or manage that stranger? No matter the personality you possess, charisma and the 'power to connect' can help you coach. Know the person, lead the player.
Not all British football coaches get it right. Some great coaches may have outstanding knowledge, but lack the skills to have their voice heard. Some great speakers may be likable and amazing at building relationships, but lack the knowledge to improve players and win matches. Can you find your own process of opening doors, taking the tools, and using them to good effect?
Pep Guardiola may have only done what thousands of other coaches can do (when giving Raheem Sterling some coaching cues). However, the main spectacle should be 'how to get players to follow that basic cue in the first place'. Was Sterling a stranger in this instance?
In the past 20 years, Gary White has clearly met a few strangers, turned them into people, and then led them as players.