Be honest with players - Marcel Koller

Swiss coach Marcel Koller - who took Austria to UEFA EURO 2016 - has told UEFA Pro licence students that openness is the right way for a coach to deal with footballers.

Marcel Koller at the UEFA Pro licence students' course
Marcel Koller at the UEFA Pro licence students' course ©UEFA

Honesty is the best policy – the feelings of Swiss coach Marcel Koller on how to deal with players.

Koller, who led Austria to the UEFA EURO 2016 finals in France, was the special guest at UEFA’s latest Pro licence student exchange seminar, and gave sound words of advice to student coaches from Denmark, Israel, Northern Ireland and Turkey.

“I’d always advise young managers to learn how they should act with players,” he said. “It always comes back to bite you if you lie to them.”

“I prefer the direct approach, which is difficult as a manager. When you have two players who are equally as good as each other, with only one position available, you have to explain that and there’s no real explanation.”

“As the manager, you need to make a decision and it’s important to be open and honest. Sometimes you have to explain that you just had a feeling. It can be that the player gets upset and slams doors, but that’s part of it.”

Koller, who has also enjoyed title wins as a club coach in Switzerland with Grasshopper-Club and St. Gallen, and worked in the German Bundesliga with Köln and Bochum, explained that coaches must be able to adapt their ideas and methods to the players under their charge.

“The players might not have the technical ability or speed,” he said, “their touch might send the ball three or four metres away, which at the top level, results in the loss of the ball.”

“So it’s important to adapt … You don’t have top players everywhere – you have to work with what’s at your disposal to try and convey the ideas you have. Some get it quickly, some more slowly and some not at all.”

A full interview with Marcel Koller appears in UEFA Direct 178