Soccer Stress Management How State of the Heart Technology Can Keep Bosses in Good Health; Prevention Is Better Than Cure for Those in the Hot Seat

Article excerpt

Byline: IVAN SPECK

NEIL Warnock experienced the full range of emotions open to a football manager in the last 12 months.

He went from the euphoria of cup wins and a playoff semi-final success to the despair of subsequent play- off failure one step away from the Premiership and the apoplectic fury of an FA Cup semi- final defeat by Arsenal decided by a block tackle from the referee.

It would be hard to imagine that any of it can match the sheer relief felt by the Sheffield United manager in a London hospital last Friday lunchtime.

The normally ebullient Warnock tensely awaited the results of a scan which eventually showed a minor decay in the condition of his heart, one that can be treated by medicine and that is no worse than an average 54-year-old, football manager or not.

He believed he was fit, but the pressures of football management can exact a tragic toll. Think of Jock Stein, Graeme Souness or Gerard Houllier for examples of men whose hearts and health have been compromised by the job they love.

For Warnock, who has had more than 800 games in charge of Burton Albion, Scarborough, Notts County, Huddersfield, Plymouth, Oldham, Bury and now the red half of Sheffield, those pressures have been present since 1986.

He said: ' It's amazing that nothing much has changed. It was the same at Scarborough as it is now.

The only thing is that as you get older, you're still concerned about your team but you don't worry as much.

'When you're younger, it definitely is more of a worry because you want to pay the bills and the casualty rate in management can be 50 per cent a year.

'Psychologically, you try to keep calmer on the touchline as you get older.

I don't get worked up as much as I used to - just occasional matches like semi-finals and play- off finals. And we had more than our share of those last season.

'I'm going to pack it in after the next two or three years because I want to do basic things, like put the kids to bed and take them to school, get on my tractor, and tell the truth about people in the game. …