Dundee United boss Micky Mellon’s new book – The First 100 Days – is out now and jam-packed with football wisdom.
Co-authored with head teacher Phil Denton, whom Mellon met while manager of Tranmere Rovers, The First 100 Days: Lessons In Leadership From The Football Bosses is full of big names and even bigger ideas.
With contributions from the likes of Sam Allardyce, David Moyes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Mellon’s book is designed to be a manual to help guide gaffers through their first few months at a new club.
The 320-page paperback is also an entertaining read for fans, Arabs or otherwise, as Mellon dives deep into the minds of top managers to discover what makes them tick.
Calum Woodger got his hands on a copy and this is what he found out…
1. Micky’s deep affinity with Dundee United
Following completion of the book, Mellon and Denton got together to discuss his first 100 days at the Tannadice helm.
It’s a small but revealing section of the read, hidden in the postscript towards the end of the book, where Mellon explains how he has become “a better manager” through the writing process.
The United gaffer also lifts the lid on his deep affinity for the club born out of the values of his Glasgow upbringing.
He reveals one of his mum’s favourite sayings: ‘What’s for you won’t go by you’.
It seems true in the case of the marriage of Mellon and the Tangerines.
He said: “I had a good chat with the owners and saw how they operated.
“I liked what they had to say and I saw that they were ambitious but realistic, which is what you need.
“I then got to know this town and this club. I used to pretend I was a Dundee United player when I was a boy.
“I knew all about the history of the club and what a magnificent support base they have.
“I got really excited about living and working here. Like I’ve said before, it’s like starting a new relationship.”
2. Mellon and Denton’s mutual respect – a reminder it’s more than just a book about the beautiful game
It’s easy to get lost in the football aspect of the book and forget about the headline act – lessons in leadership.
Throughout the read, you see Mellon and Denton’s relationship blossom from a chance encounter between strangers in a hotel gym to sitting down like old mates at the end to discuss their journey.
Denton details that first meeting extensively in the introduction, labelling them an “unlikely duo”.
Throughout, they travel the length and breadth of England together – delving into stories from further afield, too – on a quest to uncover how the best and brightest in sport operate.
Denton makes it clear that, although they seemed worlds apart on the face of it, scratch beneath the surface and the pair are actually more alike than not.
“On that first day, we did not know where things would go but we both knew we could learn a great deal from each other,” he said.
“Despite our fields being different – Micky’s football leadership and mine educational – we saw so many common concepts that intrigued us both.
“‘Let’s keep in touch’ said Micky, ‘we’re going to learn a lot from each other.’
“And there it was. The beginning of a voyage of discovery into the world of leadership.
“We became an unlikely duo, looking for the truth of what it takes to be a sensational leader in any walk of life.”
3. Illuminating insight from Premier League bosses like Allardyce, Moyes and Solskjaer
Although not the most aesthetically-pleasing cover stars, Mellon’s leading men – Allardyce, Moyes and Solskjaer – offer a rare glimpse into the thought processes of those at the top of the game.
It’s an illuminating insight into the lives of the West Brom, West Ham and Manchester United chiefs that focuses on their first 100 days at a new club.
Youngest of the bunch Solskjaer’s take on his infancy in the Old Trafford dugout, stepping into the impossible-to-fill shoes of his gaffer Sir Alex Ferguson, is the most eye-opening.
For a comparative rookie, and former Red Devils player, taking the hotseat at one of the world’s biggest football powers and having such early success was headline news at the time.
Cast your mind back to 2018 and ‘Ole’s at the Wheel’ for a moment as the 48-year-old Norwegian explains how, from day one, he tried to set up a culture that aimed to recapture former glories.
“About 11am, I got the players together. We spoke to them about what an honour it was to be at Manchester United,” Solskjaer recalled.
“We talked about high expectations, having some fun and even surprising a few people. ‘Let’s enjoy one day at a time and start winning again’.
“Later that day, I remember walking out and hearing people saying, ‘Finally, we’re talking about being Manchester United again’.”
4. Charts, graphs and data for the futba geeks out there
For all the words of wisdom from gaffers, The First 100 Days also offers those with a more analytical brain to understand how a winning team is built and managed.
Admittedly, the concepts aren’t for everyone.
However, as a fan, it’s good to know there’s more to team talks than Football Manager lets on.
There’s a whole chapter on what goes on in the dressing-room, in fact, as Mellon and Denton get their teeth into days 51 to 65.
Something called the Sunflower Team Talk – seed, soil, flower, weather – from “data rich” boss Allardyce’s back catalogue is a good example.
Denton explained: “The performance of a team is like a sunflower.
“The flower will grow in the right environment to a great height. However, various factors need to be in place to ensure it grows to its full potential.
“Firstly, the seed and the ability of the seed to actually grow. In a football sense, can the players on the field actually deliver what is asked of them?
“Secondly, is the soil conducive to the growth of this flower? Thirdly, will the words used to direct and galvanise be the weather conditions required to stimulate that growth?”
5. The wider impact of Mellon’s efforts on the game
If the aforementioned isn’t enough to make you consider shelling out your hard-earned to read the United boss’ book, the knowledge of it’s impact on the game and society as a whole might just sway you.
Denton and Mellon are donating all proceeds from the book to the Len Johnrose Trust – a charity set up in the name of Mellon’s former Burnley team-mate who, in 2017, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).
Speaking about Johnrose, Micky said: “Len is an inspirational guy.
“I was inspired when I played alongside him but I am in awe of him now.
“It was very important to me that this book helped people. If it can go a small way to helping Len and the MND Association then it will make all our effort worthwhile.”
Micky Mellon’s book – The First 100 Days – is out now and available online and in bookshops.