Management is all-encompassing. That’s something I’ve learned since starting this job. I find it very difficult to switch off. I can be at the cinema or out for a meal with my wife, and I’m thinking constantly about what my players are doing. How are they playing? Are they fit? Are they doing their recovery?
People say to me: “Just switch your phone off today.”
But, actually, as a manager you’ve got to be contactable 24 hours a day. You’ve got to be there for every single player. If you get that right, then you have a group of players who know that their staff cares about them – as players, but as people as well.
There’s been ups, and real downs, both on and off the field. But at the end of the day, if I’m playing for a manager who I know cares about me, then I’m going to give more.
The bigger the challenge for my players, the more that they stepped up. The more that they’ve enjoyed, the better they’ve performed. We went into the World Cup with a team full of confidence and belief – and with no fear.
I’d been out running a lot beforehand. Thinking a lot. I already knew what I was going to say to the players before our opening game against Scotland. I knew my team for that game, too. Just as I knew my team for the next game against Argentina, and Japan after that. I like to prepare. To have a vision about how a game is going to go, and I like to get those pictures in my head early. To be decisive.
I knew exactly what I was going to say at what moment.
Tracey was right – it was the biggest and best thing I’d ever done. It was the absolute pinnacle.
I couldn’t wait to stand on that touchline.