By Alex Turk

It’s no secret that being a football manager comes with its highs and lows, as with any other role in the football industry, but not enough protection has been provided by football clubs in the past to guard against one of the industry’s greatest taboos.

When it comes to sport, being in good mental health goes a long way to becoming successful. But depression alone affects up to half of the world’s population during our lifetime, and with elite football managers being in the public eye to such an extent there is an unknown impact being made on mental health.

As part of the UCFB-LMA Insight Series, David Moyes came in to speak with us and addressed the pressures of being a manager and the importance of ensuring that staff wellbeing is prioritised in the future.

Speaking exclusively to UCFB, the former Everton and Manchester United boss said: “I am not too sure the word ‘mental health’ was out eight/nine/ten years ago; if you used the word ‘mental health’ then it would have been seen as something much more hospital orientated. I think it has become a bigger case now and I think the pressure has grown because you see how much time managers have in the job. Managers get talked about when they don’t win a game and they might lose their job, so I think the pressure has grown.

“I think you have an inbuilt system; you know what you should listen to, what you should look at, what you shouldn’t do. But I also think that clubs are now recognising that there are mental health issues at other clubs. I think it won’t be long until the clubs are employing people who can deal with that themselves whether that be specific types of doctors or psychologists that can deal with it.”

As part of his 20-year career as a manager so far, Moyes took charge at one of the biggest clubs in the world, Manchester United, in 2013 – taking over from one of the greatest ever to stand on the touchline, Sir Alex Ferguson, in what was described as ‘the hardest job in the world’ at the time.

During his stint at Old Trafford, Moyes was on the receiving end of significant pressure and criticism but he has claimed that preparing for the scrutiny you’ll be under as a manager, especially in a big job, will help prioritise your mental health.

Moyes speaking to students at UCFB Etihad Campus.

“Now there are many more issues involved in life, not just in football, and I think people like counsellors who can listen are really important. I think having people at football clubs in a business where you are quite openly criticised and there is a lot of pressure on how you play – quite often for a lot of people that can become too big. It’s becoming a much bigger part of the understanding at football clubs now but as a manager, I think when you go into a job you have to understand that it’s not going to be easy and also you are not going to win all of the time.”

He continued: “When you’re not winning all of the time, it probably means you’re going to be in for a bit of scrutiny. So I think it is important we have people around to help but I also think that the sport we are in gives you the chance to express yourself and go out and perform. If you come into football you have to experience that that is what is going to happen to you and you are not going to have lots of protection because you are open to criticism, the media and the supporters. I think clubs having protection will be a big thing going forward.”

Moyes has managed six clubs during his time as a manager, four of those being in the top tier of English football with another, Real Sociedad, being in Spain’s top division.