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Coaching / Development, Culture, Performance | Jul 24, 2019
In his new book Mensch: Beyond the Cones, Harding discusses why German football will need to return to human values in both player and coach development.

We start the latest edition of the Leaders Performance podcast by asking author Jonathan Harding about the meaning behind the title of his latest book, Mensch: Beyond the Cones.


By John Portch

“It’s the German word for a ‘person’ or ‘human’; it’s also a word in German that can be used out of aggravation or frustration – you’d say ‘mensch: come on!’,” he replies.

“It can also mean being a ‘good person’. That’s not a German word in that sense, that’s a Yiddish word. So there’s a quite lot of variation behind it and I thought it best summed up what I was trying to do with the book, and ultimately that was to explain or shed some light, through the stories of a number of different coaches, on how coaching needs to return to more human values, particularly in football, because I think we’ve forgotten.”

German-developed coaches are some of the most valued in European football but, if the nation’s production line of coaches, not to mention playing talent, is to continue in the same vein, then the human element cannot be overlooked.

As Harding adds: “Part of all sport is that these are just people, whether they’re coaches, players, members of staff – everybody in the game needs to be viewed and remembered as humans and I think that’s something I was really keen to put across.”

He does so through the eyes of some of Germany’s most respected coaches, who have been part of the overhaul that saw a moribund German football team rise from its inauspicious performance at Euro 2000 to world champions in 2014. Some bold decisions in terms of player and coach development were made along the way and, following the team’s exit at the group stages of the 2018 World Cup, Harding argues that similarly affirmative action is needed once again.

Coming up you’ll also hear Harding, who works as a football correspondent in Germany, discuss:

  • The German Fußball-Lehrer  coaching qualification [4:37];
  • That post-Euro 2000 reset in German player and coach development that that ultimately led the men to success at the 2014 Fifa World Cup [9:28];
  • Why coaching appointments are too often made using the wrong criteria [12:30];
  • The work of Helmut Groß, Ralf Rangnick and Ralph Hasenhüttl during their time working together at RB Leipzig [15:17];
  • What went wrong for Germany at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the lessons to be learnt [25:38].

Previous Episode:

Leaders Performance Podcast: Behind the Scenes at LSPS Atlanta

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