Exclusive: Non-negotiables with Marco Silva - "Discipline in football is everything"

We sat down with the Fulham manager to discuss the key coaching values and philosophies he won’t compromise on and how they influence his management style.

By Callum Davis Published: 11 November 2022 - 10.45am
Marco Silva non-negotiables

After he inspired his side to promotion from the Championship last season and an impressive start to the new Premier League campaign, BT Sport sat down with Fulham boss Marco Silva to discuss his ‘non-negotiables’ as a manager.

The Portuguese coach, who had previous spells in the top flight with Hull and Everton, has earned a reputation as a shrewd tactician and principled manager, playing a distinctive brand of attacking football at each of his clubs.

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Fulham scored 106 goals in the Championship last season, and they’ve shown no sign of taking a more cautious approach following promotion.

And Silva has revealed all in an exclusive interview with BT Sport, delving deeper into his key philosophies and values and what he demands from his players.

What are your most important values and non-negotiables as a coach?

Passion, that is clear for me, every single day. When you come to a training session you have to love what you are doing. You have to be really pleased with the life you have.

The others are discipline and commitment. This comes with desire and ambition as well. Without discipline you cannot achieve anything.

What does passion look like from your players on the pitch? Is it about energy and resilience?

Yes, never giving up is a good example. Sometimes you need to stop running to think and running less can be better. But don’t stop working and fighting. You need the passion in every single moment to understand, to work hard, to enjoy it.

It’s really important to enjoy the game even when you are working hard. Passion is about doing your best in every single moment.

After you create a habit to fight in every training drill, to win the battle, you create a habit to be a winner and things will come on a matchday as a consequence.

Marco Silva - non-negotiables

You’re renowned as a hard-working coach. Do you expect your players to give that back to you and work hard on the training ground?

Definitely. Myself and my staff are the first ones to arrive at the training ground and we go home really late as well, because we have something to prepare all the time, and we try to prepare our team as best we can.

If we give the players the best conditions to be prepared, of course we expect something from them. This is commitment and the desire to learn every single day.

From day one until the last day of our careers as players or managers we are always learning. Every single moment can be a moment to learn new things or to improve something that is not so strong.

“Football today is so tough. All the small details make the difference, so you have to be professional from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.”
- Marco Silva

How much of being disciplined relates to the physical conditioning of the players and their fitness?

Discipline is a big box and you can put many things inside. Discipline on a daily basis, inside your training ground, is being on time, everything you do before and after a session, and of course in everyday life.

Football today is so tough - all the small details make the difference, so you have to be professional from the moment you wake up to the last moment you go to sleep.

It’s really important what the players do outside of the training ground in their own life, and of course what they do when they pass the training ground gate. Discipline is everything in my opinion.

Were these principles things you grew up with or have they developed since you moved to England?

I loved football from when I was a kid. I remember when I was three-years-old, I went to see football matches live with my grandfather and my father. Football for me was everything from that moment.

I started to play football when I was 14. When you start to play football you understand the commitment, everything that is important.

Discipline you start to understand from your parents, because it’s something not just in football but in life. School as well, you grow up with this behind you. Then you become professional and you start to understand football better.

All of this forms the basics for you to be a better person, and of course to be a better manager.

How important is it for your players to have faith in your system and objectives?

Making your players believe in your philosophy and what you are trying to create is the most important thing for a manager. In that way you can achieve results, but you can also make the players better in the present and the future.

You should improve all your players - that is the best way to get results. Apart from all the other things that are important - like having a close relationship with the players - they have to feel that the manager is getting the best from them, and you have to prove to them that your way is the best way.

Once you’ve proved that to them, is it easier for them to stay disciplined and not go off message?

Definitely, because if you prepare everything from the first day of pre-season and prepare everything during the week to do on a matchday, that is a plan. You have to stick with the plan indefinitely.

Of course on a matchday you have creativity and moments that come from the players, but we always play within the plan and the same strategy.