Twenty-five centuries ago an extraordinary Chinese philosopher and general named Sun Tzu wrote a short work regarding his strategies regarding matters such as tactics, terrain, and manoeuvring. The work was aptly dubbed The Art of War.
Observing the precepts of this great work Sun Tzu and the armies he commanded prevailed for decades over their ancestral enemies. More than two millennia later, another famous general reportedly also used the principles described in the book. Napoleon is reputed to have waged his successful campaigns in Europe with Sun Tzu’s book in hand, only to fall to defeat when he failed to follow the principles of The Art of War.
Even in these modern days, the book remains the object of study by military commanders world-wide. For example, the American general Schwarzkopf may not acknowledge Sun Tzu as the inspiration behind the military operation he led during the First Gulf War; however the tactics he employed, which so emphasized surveillance, communications, mobility, and deception, appear directly drawn from The Art of War.
The Art of War has been applied to many fields well outside of the military. Much of the text is about how to fight wars without actually having to do battle: it gives tips on how to outsmart one's opponent so that physical battle is not necessary. As such, it has found application as a training guide for many competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat.
The book highlights the importance of positioning in strategy and that position is affected both by objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective opinions of competitive actors in that environment. Sun Tzu thought that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through an established list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions. Planning works in a controlled environment, but in a changing environment, competing plans collide, creating unexpected situations.
If this is all sounded way too abstract for your liking and you do not recognise managerial schemes in the competing plans and the changing environment does not equal a football match for you, maybe the next quote will help. Dutch manager Rinus Michels was once quoted saying something which roughly translates as: “Professional football is something like war. Whoever behaves too properly is lost.”
So if football is a bit like war, the principles of war could apply to it. And if you take a football management simulation, which is supposed to simulate actual football, surely you can use these principles here in two-fold? For starters, because the concepts can apply directly to football and secondly, because these concepts are used by all sorts of managers and generals, so why not a football (simulation) manager?