That mysterious managerial magic that transforms all

Nigel Clough - Sheffield United  '� BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Nigel Clough - Sheffield United '� BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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What is it and where can I get some?

That gift that certain football managers have, giving them the ability to inspire people to bring out more from themselves than they knew they had.

By organising players and teams, guiding, cajoling, pleading, bullying and whatever else it is that they do, they transform habitual losers into persistent winners.

On February 1 Sheffield United were second bottom of League One having just lost 3-0 at Crewe.

Now, five weeks and nine wins later, they are in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and on the fringes of the play-off hopeful positions.

A man as sensible and modest as Nigel Clough says it’s all down to the players - but many of them are the same players who struggled through the winter.

Something has changed.

Sure there are new faces in the team but the existing ones are transformed.

Men whose lack of confidence made them consistently choose the wrong options are now knocking the ball past defenders and flying.

Passing is crisp and to the best target. Cover is sharp and effective.

For some managers the magic is fleeting. One- or two-season wonders who lose the gift, don’t remember where they put it and spend the rest of their careers, long and short, trying to rediscover it.

Others come up with it again and again.

Men like Nigel Clough, Neil Warnock, Gary Megson, Ronnie Moore, Steve Evans locally put themselves in that group with success with different teams at different times.

They find a way to make things happen. And then they they do it again somewhere else.

The chosen few have it throughout their careers.

Men like Nigel Clough’s dad, Brian, Shankly, Paisley, Mourinho, Busby, Wenger, and of course Sir Alex Ferguson have had sufficient of what it took to take their clubs permanently on to new levels of excellence.

The step between groups is difficult and mysterious.

But when a team like United wins nine on the spin for the first time in 125 years you know something is going on.

Whatever it is, the rest of us would liky to try a slice or two.