IN his managerial career to date, Nigel Adkins has prided himself on keeping abreast with the latest advances, embracing modern-day thinking.
It is no secret that Hull’s City new head coach is huge on psychological and motivational knowledge and has held seminars in leadership to that effect.
The 52-year-old is also arguably one of the most qualified figures in the management game, possessing a League Managers’ Association diploma in Football Management while also being a qualified physiotherapist after graduating from the University of Salford
A self-confessed student of management and the game, and the archetypal new-school devotee, you would venture.
But for all the examinations, diplomas and qualifications that Adkins has obtained in his post-playing career, perhaps the oldest lessons are the most invaluable.
Well before winning consecutive League of Wales titles with Bangor City in 1994 and 1995, Adkins cut his teeth in management with Renbad Rovers in the obscurity of parks football in the Birkenhead Sunday League in the Eighties.
Such was his devotion to the cause that he even wrote a programme, a piece of A4 paper folded in half, drove the minibus and helped clear dog mess from the pitch before some games.
It gave him a unique grounding in management and those successful days with a band of lads who stuck together to sweep all before them are still fresh in his memory.
New-age he may be in many respects, but what Adkins will be plainly trying to foster at Hull in the weeks ahead is an old-school mentality of togetherness, comradeship and a willingness to graft and fight for each.
You need that to be a success in muck-and-nettles football, just as you do when you are down among the dead men in the unforgiving Championship.
We have got the phones here and everyone is inclined to be on the phone all of the time and not interact. That is something we need to address.Hull City head coach, Nigel Adkins
Adkins, who will lead out his Tigers side for the first time this afternoon, said: “Whether you are going to be successful or not, you must have a spirit about your team.
“I had a Sunday League team for ten years and went from the Birkenhead Sunday League Division Five to Four, Three, Two, One and the Premier and won league and cup doubles.
“It was great. The players did not get paid, but it was about spirit and a hunger to be part of a team and a belonging and wanting to improve and be the best. That is invaluable and we need that now.
“Sometimes you have to go on a process where we need the lads to be sociable to each other. That is an important thing and we miss out on that.
“We have got the phones here and everyone is inclined to be on the phone all of the time and not interact. That is something we need to address.
“Looking at the successful teams, you can probably name the starting XI and maybe one or two subs. How can we get that where everyone is part of a team?
“If they are, they might take more responsibility and leadership and have honest conversations in a social environment without actually taking it personally. Spirit is a big thing we need to get, but it does not happen overnight.
“Sometimes that character building comes when your backs are against the wall and in a corner.
“All of a sudden when you are in that situation you find out who is around you and galvanise that.”
Hull are very much in a ‘situation’ after picking up just two wins in their past 15 Championship matches, with some deep scar tissue evident after some painful setbacks towards the end of games on too many afternoons and nights to mention already this season.
This lack of mental fortitude was sadly apparent in Hull’s last home game when they imploded in a 3-2 loss to Bristol City, which was as self-inflicted as is possible.
The shortage of self-belief among those in amber and black was abundantly clear after the visitors pulled a goal back midway through the second half to make it 2-1.
The damage had been done and Hull’s disintegration was pitiful. Worryingly, it was no one-off.
It is now Adkins’s task to dig out some leaders, and foster the resolve and collective mentality to see out games in the weeks and months ahead. Do that and he may be able to plan longer term.
“It is interesting. At all the clubs we have been at a question we say is where are the leaders?,” said Adkins.
“At this moment in time, we have to improve our leadership. But that sometimes means giving people responsibility to actually take a lead and improve being one.
“Previously I have had some young people and said, ‘Right, you are going to be a captain. You are too young and have not got the leadership qualities, but we are going to help improve you on that’ and have done certain things to help.
“And they have gone on to be very successful. But people need to take responsibility and lead at certain times. If we do not give anyone any responsibility or accountability they won’t lead.
“They will just hide behind somebody else. The more people we can give situations to, to go and actually lead, then we can get more leaders into the team and deal with situations on the pitch.
“I always use the Sun Tzu’s Arts of War (Chinese military text) and the battle is won before we go out on the pitch. We do a lot of preparation. Sometimes you can do too much and the players don’t make enough decisions for themselves.
“But, ultimately, the players are on the pitch and have to make them at any given time.”