Monday, 3 November 2014

The Psychology of Rowett

Since the Blues decided to embrace technology [about ten years after everybody else], ticket availability has been advertised via an online map of the St Andrew's stadium, which in turn is divided into 'sectors'. 

A green sector means you can take your family, your picnic hamper, a rug to sit on and you're likely to not lay eyes upon another mortal soul for 90 minutes.

Yellow?....So-so. You might be wedged in front of a couple of Bronx hat-wearers, spitting bits of peanut at the back of your head while they heckle the ref. But you can move. There's spare seats.

Red? Well we've not seen a 'code red' since the before time, the glorious Bruce days, since the 2005 Galacticos set the league on fire. A red block on the e-St Andrews map means it's sold out and there's not a seat to be had.

Well something weird happened today....we've got a code red.

Even as I write this, whole blocks are changing from green to red, one after another. It's almost akin to a sci-fi film when a ship's force-field is failing under prolonged attack.

You might imagine Amir [the excitable and amiable ticket office assistant] as the St Andrew's version of Scotty, twirling on his office chair back and forth across the room while a siren blares, smoke shoots out of the pipes and all the phones in the office ring unanswered. The club can't keep up with the demand.

Status report Amir?

'St Andrew's is 15% green laddy, and plummeting quickly!'

What's causing this surge in uptake? What's smashing the availability of tickets for tomorrow's game with Watford?

It's not the Klingons, or the Daleks or the Ewoks....

....It's Rowett fever.

Go to Birmingham and you'll see a city frantically chatting away. The foreign bus drivers are talking about Gary Rowett, the fruit sellers are discussing Rowett, the kids are talking about Rowett, the Birmingham internet forums are alive with the sound of Rowett. Members of the Blues Trust are sending their servants into their grand, opulent, attics to dust down their late 90s Auto-Windscreen emblazoned shirts and present them ready to wear.

The appointment of Gary Rowett has created a tidal wave of optimism that has smashed into the people of Birmingham, washing away the negativity and the misery, cleansing them of despair.

On the face of it the delirium seems misplaced. The uncaring, mysterious, distanced and damaging Hong Kong regime 'BIH' still own the club and look no closer to even wanting to sell. Finances are still cripplingly tight. The squad remains a mish-mash of young unproven academy products, free transfers from the lower leagues and wrinkled, aging pros on a last meal ticket. Blues fans continue to look to the transfer window with sheer terror. The overall situation hasn't changed much.

Yet Rowett's appointment has sent the masses into euphoria. Why?

Being an idiot who will occasionally buy a psychological book in the best-sellers stand at an airport bookstore, I must admit that I find the area fascinating when I get around to dipping my toe into literary titles like 'The 48 Laws of Power', 'The Art of Seduction' and 'The Chimp Complex' - all works loosely based on the techniques you can use to improve how others view you.

Rowett seems to embody a hell of a lot of the principles found in these books - conciously or subconciously.

Firstly the man, whilst not classically good looking, has an attractive vibe to him. Researchers everywhere from Ancient Greece to the London School of Economics have found that the more attractive you are, the better people treat you, think of you and behave around you.

Dr Gordon Patzer studied the phenomenon for three decades:

"According to Dr. Gordon Patzer, who has concluded 3 decades of research on physical attractiveness, human beings are hard-wired to respond more favorably to attractive people: “Good-looking men and women are generally regarded to be more talented, kind, honest and intelligent than their less attractive counterparts.” 

Patzer contends, “controlled studies show people go out of their way to help attractive people—of the same sex and opposite sex—because they want to be liked and accepted by good-looking people.”  Even studies of babies show they will look more intently and longer at attractive faces, Patzer argues."

Dion, Berscheid & Walster called this 'the halo effect':

"Results showed that participants overwhelmingly believed more attractive subjects have more socially desirable personality traits than either averagely attractive or unattractive subjects."

Part of Rowett's appeal is that he's a good looking bloke, and we therefore subconsciously assume he's going to be a good manager.

The 'halo effect' has undoubtedly added to the success of managers like José Mourinho, for example.

I believe the opposite is true too. Ugly managers have to work their bollocks off to get praise. Steve McLaren and Steve Bruce being two great examples. 

Like Mourinho, Rowett also employs another devastatingly effective social tactic....he's immaculately dressed.

By switching the muddy tracksuit for a smart shirt, chinos, shoes, a neck-scarf, even a snood. This creates status, engenders a sense of professionalism.

If you look the part, people will assume that you are the part.

'That guy's wearing a scarf and a suit, he MUST be a good manager'. 

Rowett knows this, and again, adds this tactic to his arsenal.

The visual will only get you so far, however. Looking the part must be coupled with high status behaviour.

When Gary Rowett joined the guy off Blue Peter and Peter Beagrie during the reflective post-match show after Blues drew with Wolves at Molineux on Saturday morning, he seemed to steal the focus by talking slowly and calmly in a relaxed, informed, confident manner that emitted an aura, a sense of gravitas. Not only did the viewers learn about the game from the content of Rowett's post-match comments, but the way Rowett used the tools of rhetoric so effectively added to this 'cool' reputation that is building quickly.

In many ways Rowett is the anti-Ed Miliband, whose ugliness, geekiness and awkward, nasally, way of speaking is making what should be an easy Labour win in the next election appear shaky to say the least.

When you add the innate attributes Rowett has that make him appealing on a psychological level to the fact he's an ex-Blues player himself, and is born in the suburbs of Greater Birmingham, you quickly start to realise just why this guy is getting a lot of Brummie love.

All peoples in every corner of the globe idolise that which reminds them of themselves. In Rowett, when we hear his soft South Birmingham tones, it immediately resonates with us. Exactly the same reason Peaky Blinders is immensely popular in the West Midlands region. We're proud when we see one of our own succeed - especially because there is a perception that Brummies and West Midlanders in general are largely beaten down and ridiculed by the rest of the nation.

Rowett has emerged as a Brummie Julius Caesar type character, ready to rally the Brummie legions together, create a siege mentality and drag Blues up the table kicking and screaming.

It also helps that he's coming across as extremely positive. He refuses to mention the 8-0, the prior management, he's bringing players back in from the cold, he's pumping out a positive message in between making thoroughly complimentary remarks about the club and the fans in heartfelt way.

The Blues fans are absolutely desperate to find a messiah too.

They are the romantic, working class hordes of the city. Simple people, the people of the earth. They will follow unquestioningly, and they have been ill-treated time and time again.

Chris Hughton will never be held in such high regard as he was at Blues. The fans worshiped him, forgave every mistake, afforded patience, yet he abandoned them on the sinking ship as he fled to Norwich.

This is a fanbase that put up with McLeish's horrific anti-football for the best part of four seasons, witnessed two relegations because of it and didn't even boo in protest, when other fans [such as Blackburn, Blackpool, Newcastle, Villa] would have burned the ground down in similar circumstances.

When Birmingham first reached the Premiership, and they signed their first big, foreign type player [Aliou Cissé], the guy was treated as the king of Birmingham despite being a really average, cumbersome, central midfielder.

The Birmingham fans are desperate for something, somebody, to get behind, a receptacle for their unwavering passionate support.

In Rowett, they may have finally found such a figure.

And Rowett himself is on to an obvious winner. Faced with a fanbase that is at its lowest ebb and in search of a hero; taking over a team that is in the relegation zone and has just lost 8-0, and having all the psychological 'cool tools' at his disposal - it's difficult to see Rowett failing at Blues.

If Blues go down, Rowett can rightfully say 'it wasn't my fault' and blame the ownership problems or even the previous manager. If Blues stay up, the Brummie Julius Caesar will have the desperate hordes eating out of his hands. Rowett will be raised to demi-God status.

Ultimately if the ownership issues don't change, Rowett's charm will one day work on a club in the Premiership, and the drive and ambition in the man that saw him leave Burton for Blues will see him leave Blues to progress.

On such a day the Blues hordes' love for Rowett will turn to anger, with the vitriol of a spurned lover.

I'll probably have to dig out a new internet username too.

But in the mean time, let's enjoy the journey. Let's ride this tidal wave of positivity, let's get behind local lad Rowett and his attempts to unite the Brummies, let's turn all of those green sectors red for the Watford game tomorrow.

Otherwise if you don't you'll upset Amir in the ticket office, and that'd be ever such a shame.


  1. Very good :)

    I enjoy your manic ramblings, keep it up!

  2. Very good piece,just one correction to make though, Alberto Tarantini was our first big foreign signing not Cisse

  3. Love it. Such wisdom

  4. Like wanting to floor the accelerator when common sense tells you to keep the brake covered.
    Great writing.

  5. A very well thought out, concise, reasoned and witty review. As inspired as we all are by Gary "he's not a naughty boy, he's the Messiah" Rowett. KRO