You may have figured that I’ve been mildly obsessing over a particular fellow by the name of Sun Tsu lately with all these strange, mysterious videos.
And of course, you’d be right.
But they all have a purpose as we edge ever closer to the Team Picker Cup’s first fixture on Thursday 4th September.
Sun Tsu is actually an inspiration to me, just as he is to others across the world. He was an ancient Chinese military general and was well known in the modern world for writing The Art of War, a strategy guide for generals alike to use to vanquish their foes. It’s kind of like ‘Warmongering for Dummies’. But today it isn’t just applied in warfare – it’s also praised in business and legal thinking too, or simply in any field where you need to get the better of someone else (in an honourable way, of course!)
It was also identified as the manual for Stewie’s planned world domination in Family Guy… ooh fuzzy!
But away from that short animated interlude, you’ll notice that I’ve posted three videos which include direct quotes from The Art of War.
Sun Tsu’s teachings can tell us a lot about who the next winner of the Team Picker Cup could be. He promotes the virtues of good leadership, knowing the enemy (and yourself) and also observing the field of battle on how play to your advantage. These are all key elements which could translate into a TPC Final victory!
So here are my tips based on Sun Tsu’s teachings that you will have already viewed in greater detail. And remember, this is advice is free from your 2014 TPC Champ 🙂
1. Leadership is very important
To be a great leader isn’t easy. It’s not just about picking well, but you also have to be a manager who inspires and encourages his team to succeed. Captains have been let down here in the past – the number of times I’ve noticed captains not offering any instructions, encouraging comments or even talking at all. This doesn’t bode well for the team, especially if there isn’t a core understanding amongst them.
Talk to your team. Even if it’s just basic things like formation or positioning. The step up from that will then be to inspire your team when you’re behind.
Lastly, a captain also leads by example, not by force. You cannot strong-arm your team to win for you unless you want to get a punch in the nose. Treat your team with respect and they will respect you back.
2. Know your enemy (and the picking process)
This was perhaps the most cryptic of all three videos, but it all boils down to doing your homework. That’s difficult at the TPC as you don’t always know which players will be present – but you do know who your opponent is.
Think how the opposing captain will conduct his picking choices. Is he defensively minded? Will he value a good keeper – or is he a handy keeper himself? Will he go for the quickest player first? If I have the first pick, which two players will he then go for?
Have a strategy for when the picking process goes off course too. I think in my experience of team picking, it’s only ever gone to plan on one occasion so be prepared for setbacks.
Also – think about the period leading up to the game. For example if you’re Chris Phillips, you’ll be taking the boxer’s approach. There will be banter on Facebook, maybe the odd post about how confident he is in winning and often enough his opponent will respond. Own this process too if it works for you. But of course, keep it clean and above board – friendly banter is encouraged, but no further than that.
3. Be prepared to ‘shake things up’ to win
Whenever I speak to Cardiff City fans who watch the games, they often tell me how they are frustrated with manager Russell Slade. One of the key things I hear is that he lacks a Plan B – that he only has one approach to managing the team and when things go bad due to a number of factors i.e. injury to a key player or change in opponent’s formation, he doesn’t know how to adjust the team to deal with it.
The TPC is definitely a competition where a number of strategies are required to win, based on the various factors around you. The weather is a big one – certain players thrive when it rains for example, but will be less effective when it’s dry. Remember that if it does rain mid game and the pitch becomes greasy, your current game plan may need to be tweaked.
Players aren’t the same every week either. Be prepared if a player takes a knock, feels unwell or is simply not 100% on arrival. This isn’t to say the player isn’t valuable to you – simply that you may need to think about if his strengths can be used elsewhere.
There will be other factors – sometimes those which you will not be able to foresee.
The best quote of all from Sun Tsu?
There’s one more video to come which I will release on Saturday prior to the SLODBN but don’t worry – it won’t be as unusual or slightly ‘unnerving’ as the last three I’ve posted.
But I’d like to leave you with you with one more quote from Sun Tsu which is perhaps the most important thing to take away from him.
It also applies perfectly to me as the Team Picking Champ who won the title by not playing a final game….