Whilst sounding awfully pretentious, the Hartman doctrine refers to gunnery sergeant Hartman (geek alert for movie reference!) from the movie Full Metal Jacket. For those of you who may not have seen the movie, this is sergeant Hartman, who was an actual, bona fide US marine corps drill sergeant cast to play one.
He looks scary, doesn’t he? Can you imagine him instructing his troops? If you can but enjoyed the movie, or have never seen the movie, or do not possess a vivid imagination, have a look at the following clip.
This is actually not that different from Sir Alex Ferguson’s famed hair-dryer treatment, which can be briefly described as “an up-close lecture generously given to under-performing players.” The “hairdryer treatment” name was given by Mark Hughes to the fearsome decibel-busting rollickings dished out by the boss over his 20 years in charge at Manchester United.. Hughes, a former United striker said: “He would stand nose-to-nose with you and just shout and bawl, and you would end up with your hair behind your head.”
The hairdryer treatment seems a thing of the past, as player power has increased exponentially, both in real life and the game we all know and love. Yelling point-blank at the faces of today’s primadonna’s would surely spark a dressing room mutiny, wouldn’t it? Let’s put this theory to the test.
Regardless of the situation, the aggressive approach works. It takes some trial and error to see which team talk is effective in which situation, but given the rather limited nature of the games responses and possible scenario’s, it shouldn’t take you much longer than a few games to figure out what to say in which situation. For a pre-game situation, I generally opt for the “worthy” approach.
As you can see, this is pretty effective in rallying the troops.
Most of the players seem motivated by the team talk, without actually being “happy.” Whilst I have nothing against Pharrell Williams and his mantra, in Football Manager terms, “happy” is a negative thing. Happy players are often complacent players. Have your players ever collapsed after half time or started a game so underwhelmingly shitty that it hurt your eyes and made you want to scream at your players to pull their fingers out of their collective arses? You should’ve opted for the in-game version of screaming at them. This goes for any and all team talks, pre-match, half-time and post-match.
At half-time, I always go for the “unhappy” option, unless I have taken a three goal or more lead. Whilst this may sound counter-intuitive, yelling at your players and claiming they are shit really helps to motivate them and actually stops those dreaded second half slumps. Whilst many real life players think they should be immune from criticism, their digital counterparts are more receptible towards a manager who points out their mistakes.
Ideally, what you want to look for in the effects of a team-talk at half time is some sort of riling up effect. Ideally, this is what you’re looking for. Fired up players, willing to go all out and give it their utmost. It makes sense as well. Drill sergeants do it all the time. Yelling at someone, preferably in the most personally offensive manner possible, is the easiest way to get a human being who is unaccustomed to performance under stress to take action while being placed under an extreme and sudden stress environment. It trains them to block out the noise and the fear and the stress and just do what they need to do. No complacency, but full-blown dedication to the cause.
The same applies to post-match team-talks. When you become the big boy in the league, there can be no room for complacency. When you want to become the big boy in the league, there is even less room for complacency. You want to keep the squad motivated, so unless they trashed the opposition by a margin of three or more goals, you are not pleased.
So there you have it, motivated and fired up players, because I yelled at them even if they performed reasonably well. If you went with your gut feeling more and actually yelled at your players to tell them they were useless sacks of shit or underperforming clones of Fernando Torres, or maybe just even Emile Heskey reincarnated, they would actually perform better as well. Just ignore common sense at times and go with your gut feeling. Even when it blows up in your face, there’s some therapeutic value to it all.