fcbusiness speaks to business troubleshooter David McCulloch of Intelligent Football to find out how to turn a team around in a short space of time.

Football is a results based game and getting the right results is essential to the overall health of a club on and off the field. The pressure on managers and teams to perform is intense and club executives often find themselves having to make expensive changes in management personnel within weeks of a season starting. But is there another way to get the best out of a team?  

FC: Tell us a little bit about Intelligent Football and what you do as a business troubleshooter?

DM: Intelligent football was grown out of my experience in business. In football, the main reason they change a manager is because results don’t match the expectations of the decision makers within the club. So we will come in and sit with the decision makers – and that can be the manager, the chief executive, members of the board or chairman and get an overview of where they want to be after our engagement. 


Do you speak to the players?

Yes, we ask questions, that’s the next step. It’s not often the players get to express themselves so we carry out a debrief after a game. However, the idea is for me not to tell them what to do but for them to recognise what they can do better. So instead of focusing on mistakes – we wipe out that word – mistake – and call it learning opportunities. 


What’s the next step?

We then develop a personal and team development plan based on the learning opportunities identified. That immediately puts a positive slant on it. The whole idea is about learning and education, improving the individual performance and that as a joint team. 


But if a club is failing it’s going to be difficult to turn around without changing personnel?

No, troubleshooting provides an educational pathway from where the team are now and where you want them to be utilising the same staff. Managers, coaches and players want to be successful but a lot of them probably haven’t been given the opportunity to keep learning.


It’s about understanding people within an organisation – I was at club a couple of years ago and I could see the potential in a number of players on the pitch who were doing something a little bit different – their body language told me this!


When there’s a manager change, it costs the club millions of pounds and all of that money is lost – from the development of football, lost to the academies and communities –so it’s crucial you don’t waste money. You are not allowing the club to build a solid foundation brick by brick that will bring success and sustainability to a club.


So do you think there’s the need for another layer between the manager and the players?

It’s not another layer but a crucial addition to the process of a team or club ultimately achieving success. You know what the board want to achieve, you’re dealing with the manager and you know what they have achieved and you provide that pathway to help them get to the next level.


A crucial pathway called ‘Success Demystified’ is a methodology which teaches teams how to win within hours or days, not months or years.


Are there any current managers you see as having a learning approach to management? 

Pep Guardiola is exceptional, his record speaks for itself. But he’s still learning which I think is great because he comes across as a very studious person and that’s why at Manchester City, ok, it’s taken a full year, are now going to where the owners want them to be.


In terms of British managers I think Eddie Howe is the best example. I like his whole persona. He speaks of methodologies and is teaching his players in a more effective way.


I’m sure that many more decision-makers, managers, players and coaches will begin to see the advantage of using a troubleshooting organisation to help advance their careers and clubs. But importantly, we operate in the strictest of confidentiality.


For more information please visit: or call David direct on 07898 259376.