Why are Charlton winning again ?

Mike Holden (@foxpunter)  specialises in football manager profiling and psychology.

In this article he analyses Dean Holden's management style. He argues that Holden (no relation) has "shifted the focus from process to outcome and from things to people" and that he "effortlessly" tracks other people's emotions.

This is what Mike Holden observes:

"Charlton had won just three of their last sixteen games when Ben Garner was sacked on December 5th. They've now posted three straight wins under Holden. This is classic bounce but Holden is more than just a fresh face with a different voice. So what has he actually done?

His post-match interview after Saturday's 2-0 win over Barnsley revealed plenty:


Garner was an observer (O). Holden is a Decider (D). So Holden has basically shifted the focus from process to outcome and from things to people.

Processes take time and players need to enjoy the process to get validation. Garner's logic might have been good (who knows?) but results turned bad, so then you rely on buy-in. He simply didn't have enough credit in the bank to get the level of buy-in he required.

However, managers like Holden give players instant validation as people.

Day 1: create a pact, putting the focus on players not in the squad or the team. How do they react ? Do they still support the eleven? No doors closed and no outsiders. Code of conduct agreed: togetherness.

Stated intention: results matter (outcomes), not performances. Praise reserved for effort and "bodies on the line". Clean sheet celebrated because of what it does "for mentality" (ie future outcomes, not valediction of methods)

Anybody can do these things but not in a flow state. Not effortlessly. We know it is effortless for Holden because of two things he referred to (which others wouldn't):

  1. Tyreece Campbell's goal celebration
  2. The crowd singing Macauley Bonne's name

He didn't know it was Campbell's first senior goal and then lamented missing his celebration because other staff were jumping all over him. He's compelled to track other people's emotions. He will go out of his way to catch that celebration later on video.

Meanwhile, Bonne came on as a sub and Holden described the fans' reaction as "the biggest bonus aside from the win - I was buzzing off that". (Bonne left Charlton for QPR in 2020. Holden was aware of the dynamics and cared about them)

This is Extraverted Feeling (Fe), tracking emotions in the outer world on a spectrum. He's constantly tracking relationships between people and seeing the whole picture. He's praising the fans genuinely because he understands the vital role they play in creating togetherness.

You can put this in a manual but those without strong Extraverted Feeling won't catch half of it. Holden is tracking this everywhere - on the training ground, in the canteen, in the car park. His focus is connection, for achieving outcomes together as a tribe.

But this is low hanging fruit for him and evidently what Charlton needed after Garner. It is a good start but the real work begins now when he attempts to bed down some deeper tactical principles in his first full week on the training ground."


In a separate interview Lucas Ness provides further evidence of the togetherness that Dean Holden has created.



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