Thinking has a future at Bristol City says head coach Sean O'Driscoll
Bristol City boss Sean O’Driscoll is urging his players to think for themselves.
Since his appointment as head coach in mid-January, the former Nottingham Forest and Doncaster manager has sought to convey his own personal philosophy in a bid to improve the team’s fortunes.
And the players have responded in positive fashion, producing the kind of performances that suggest they might yet retain their Championship status this season.
A deep thinker and a student of the game, O’Driscoll has encouraged his charges to take responsibility on the field of play. And he insists they can only do that if they understand what it is they are being asked to do.
“You want people to think for themselves,” explained the 55-year-old Midlander.
“When I played, thinking for yourself got you out of the team, because you were told to do this, that and the other.
“I played the game for a long time and never understood why I did things.
“People were always telling me do things and I was always asking them why I was doing them.
“It was not that I did not want to do them, it was just I wanted to understand why. That was me.
“I always try and tell the players why they are doing certain things. I either tell them or show them and give examples of what I mean.
“That means we are all singing from the same song sheet and shows them that there is a reason for doing things. You need to have that if a team is to evolve and improve.
“Thinking for yourself means understanding why you have to be organised. There is no point in the players saying ‘I have to be organised because the manager tells me to be’. They have to understand why they are doing it.”
Communication is the key to O’Driscoll’s success and his willingness to share information and challenge conventional wisdom has encouraged City’s players to think in a different way.
He told The Post: “Football is full of rhetoric. For example, they say ‘keep it tight for 20 minutes and then play’.
“Why do that? What happens after 20 minutes? If you can play and there is a an opportunity to do so, why not do it from the first whistle? Why must you wait 20 minutes?
“I can understand why people say it, but what does it mean? If you can do something, do it. It doesn’t matter what time in the game it is.”
O’Driscoll insists the needs of the team are more important than any individual and he has shown he is not afraid to drop big-name players to the bench or leave them out altogether.
But those not currently in the side are aware of the reasons why, while those appearing regularly understand the importance of doing a job for the team. To a man, the players have clearly bought into the head coach’s ethos.
O’Driscoll explained: “I can make players technically better if they are eight or nine. If they are 21 or over, I cannot make them technically any better. What I can do, is make them understand what they do really well and what they don’t do really well.
“Players cannot always play to their strengths because of the needs of the team.”