Posted by Mickey Harte

If a manager believes they have the capacity to improve and to learn and the ability to apply those lessons then there is no reason for them not to stay on at the helm

2012 Donegal

It’s disappointing when your season ends before September but that depends on where you’re coming from. For someone like ourselves who have been successful on a number of occasions over the last decade you feel disappointed that you’re not playing football into August and September.

You always feel there’s more in the team or in the setup so it’s disappointing for those who have been at a high level and expect to get back there on a regular basis.

You do reflect on the season and think about all the little changes that might have made a difference. That’s always in your head and, for my part and for those managers who will go on in their roles, you immediately look to the future.

There are club championships going on at home so you look at the players you have to see how their form is but you also look at those who might be on the periphery or the new faces out there who might be worth taking into the squad on a trial basis to see if they could make the step up to the next level.

So you’re always thinking about what adjustments you might make and if you could do it all over again what changes would you make. But regardless of what happens in a season you always think that way, unless you come away with the ultimate prize.

Even then, though, there’s such a fine line between success and failure. In the years you win there are little things that happen -- the bounce of the ball, a vital block at the right time – that make the difference. In the years you win these things will have fallen your way but when you lose it might be because those little things didn’t go your way so it’s not about beating yourself up.

You have to be confident enough to know what the capabilities of your squad are. Some people are very extreme in their opinions. They think that if you lose everything’s wrong but if you win everything’s right. That’s absolutely not the case. Even when you’re winning you’re making plenty of mistakes and when you’re losing there are still plenty of things you’re doing right.

It’s about a balanced approach to everything you do and I think that’s key to reflecting on the past and working out how you might do things differently in the future.

It’s easy when a team loses to say a manager has taken them as far as he can. That’s as if to say you only have a certain capacity in you. It’s about the collective and a whole group of people coming together to deliver the best of themselves.

And it’s important that everybody does that in order for the group to reach its full potential. Every player must reflect and everyone in the backroom team must reflect and ask themselves did they give as much as they were capable of giving to achieve the best they could.

If the manager hasn’t got the desire or the belief in himself that he can do more, come up with new ideas and implement the changes necessary to improve the team, then there is a question mark over whether they should go on or not.

The manager has to have the desire to learn but there needs to be improvement across the board in terms of asking different questions of the players and everyone involved making new demands of themselves. Everyone needs to look at what has been done to get the team this far and then make the changes to go further so I don’t believe in saying that a manager alone has taken a team or a squad as far as he can.

Teams like Cork and Donegal are at completely different stages in the process and face totally different challenges.  The question is not just how to be successful but how to sustain it over a period of time.

With Donegal there is the question of how much it is taking it out of them individually and collectively and where the plateau is for that.

The talk coming out of the county and out of the camp is that the effort they are putting in is phenomenal so it would be difficult to sustain that level of commitment over a long period of time.

There seems to be a determination within them to reach a certain goal and to give it everything they have to try and achieve that.

And when players reach the Holy Grail it is sometimes difficult to get back there again and to have the same desire, no matter how much they want to. Often there is a feeling that, having become champions, it’s not necessary to work as hard to get back there again. But it’s not something that happens consciously and can creep into certain players’ thinking.

Then there are sides like Kerry who had such good players they could peak at the right time and didn’t have to go to extreme lengths to win All-Irelands. They had the quality players who could do it when they put their minds to it.

Teams like Kerry are the ones capable of backing up All-Ireland titles and are the only county to have done it in the last 22 years. At the moment I think Cork are in that position. They have the players and they have the strength in depth that they can introduce players and it doesn’t weaken the side at all.

They look to have the potential to be able to stick around for a while without overtaxing themselves but that remains to unfold as the season reaches its climax.