Eye On EPL

Success comes for managers who believe in embracing teamwork

Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte blend in so well with their fans who are in the stands behind them, because they are as passionate as their supporters.

Liverpool and Chelsea, now the top two teams in the English Premier League, are managed by two expressive tacticians who are not shy to display personal touches to their players and fans.

Klopp and Conte might not be wearing jerseys or team scarves, but they wear their emotions on their sleeves.

Conte blew kisses and high-fived fans during Chelsea's 5-0 hammering of Everton, while Klopp freely and frequently hugs his players on the pitch after the final whistle is blown, including Sunday's 6-1 thrashing of Watford.

The duo are always so energetic, jumping up and down on the touchline and sometimes, I feel like they are not managers but fans.

As former players themselves, Conte and Klopp know how to fire up the team. There are now plenty of images of them hugging their players... And that camaraderie has enabled the two managers to bring out the best in their respective teams.

Jose Mourinho is the opposite of Conte and Klopp. While there is no doubt the Manchester United manager is a great tactician, he loves to have the focus on him and calls himself the "Special One".

Given his ego, nobody in the team would question his tactics and sometimes, it creates an environment of fear instead of harmony.

As a former player, I do not like coaches who claim the credit for themselves. A manager has to be a combination of being an astute tactician as well as a flexible person whom players love.

As former players themselves, Conte and Klopp know how to fire up the team. There are now plenty of images of them hugging their players. It is now a ritual for television cameras to follow them post-match as they walk around the pitch to hug every player.

And that camaraderie has enabled the two managers to bring out the best in their respective teams, even though they might not have true superstars in the squad.

The duo are down to earth and respectful towards the players, praising them generously when they deserve it, unlike Mourinho, who was still criticising some players after the 3-1 win over Swansea on Sunday.

In return, the Liverpool and Chelsea players respect their managers and are happy to give 100 per cent.

Liverpool and Chelsea may not have a superstar now, especially since the likes of Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez left.

But the two teams have shown that the power of an individual player is limited.

In the recently concluded S-League season, many thought that the arrival of Jermaine Pennant, combined with a big collection of national players, would make Tampines Rovers the favourites to win the title.

But it was not a guaranteed winning formula. The Stags finished second in the league and did not win any trophies. Instead, Albirex Niigata, with their superior teamwork, won four titles.

Thanks to a collective effort, Liverpool have produced 30 goals coming from 10 different scorers in 11 league games this season. That is a reflection of true teamwork.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'Success comes for managers who believe in embracing teamwork'. Print Edition | Subscribe