The former England manager Hope Powell once said to me: “When you win, you’re never as good as you think you are. And when you lose, you’re never as bad.”
So, video analysis is crucial. Watch the game. Analyse it. Strip it.
I always try and remind myself of Hope’s advice, but I get emotional. I hate losing.
But I do feel that it can make you who you want to be as a team. It can do the same for you as a coach, too, because the losses are what drive you on to want to be better.
Maybe that’s why they’re the things that stick in my head.
Ask me what it was like to win my first trophy as a manager with Arsenal, and I can’t remember. But ask me what it was like to lose the FA Cup final to Everton in 2010 and I can tell you exactly how it felt.
It was heartbreaking.
While Everton were picking up the trophy, I gathered the players together and said: “Remember how this feels. Because I never want this feeling again.”
“I tried to come across as this more authoritative person. But the players saw straight through it”
Arsenal was the hardest environment for me to understand. The most pressured. The highest in terms of expectations.
I’d been a manager at Birmingham City before joining the club, and spent two years working at Arsenal as an assistant coach. But stepping up to become manager was difficult.
I was 29 years old. I’d been friends with some of those players.
Jordan Nobbs was new into the team, so the conversation I had with her was very different to the one I had with Emma Byrne, who’s older than me and was definitely in my social circle at the time.
I had to ask Emma: “Do you want to do this? Do you want me to be your manager?”
“As long as you don’t change who you are, I’m alright with it.”
At first, I found that difficult. I tried to change: to come across as this more authoritative person. But it’s not who I am. The players saw straight through it.
“What are you doing? You’re a good coach. You see the game. Tactically you’re very good: that’s what we need from you. Do that.”
When people ask me what advice I’d give to coaches starting on their journey, I tell them: just be yourself.