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Sean's Programme Notes - Cardiff City

20 October 2012

It's my pleasure to welcome the players, staff and supporters of Cardiff City to this afternoon's npower Championship fixture at The City Ground

Behind every success is a culture. At the core of every culture is a sense of identity.

Marketing people would call it a 'brand' but put most simply it is the things that make an organisation, or in our case, a football club what it is, what it stands for, how it does things.

A strong culture is extremely powerful, persuasive and potent.

People are proud to feel part of something special, share a core set of values and goals and inevitably are willing to go the extra mile to support and help that organisation or team achieve those goals. A strong culture includes everybody - regardless of age, role or seniority - and gives people in that organisation the opportunity and confidence to flourish.

In the context of a football club that means everyone from match-day reception staff, to the training ground kitchen staff, to parents of the Centre of Excellence boys, to the first team players, backroom staff and the board and directors.

Look at some successful sports teams ñ British cycling, Manchester United, Spain's national football team, England's 2003 Rugby World Cup squad to name a few - and instantly you conjure up words and images associated with each. They all have a clear identity.

But on the flip side, as we have seen with the revelations about Lance Armstrong and the US Postal cycling team, a strong culture can be equally powerful in a negative way.

When you're trying to build something from the inside up, you have to remain true and consistent to what you believe is the right way to do things.

You may have a very clear idea of what the end result looks like but you also have to know exactly what each step looks like and how you can realistically achieve those. An end goal is nothing without a sustainable plan.

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at the England football team in recent years is that they have no clear identity. Do they want to be a passing team, a counter-attacking team, play a rigid system or a more fluid one?

Keeping chopping and changing what you stand for is a recipe for confusion and disaster.

Not everyone will agree all the time but you have to stick to your beliefs, keep faith in the achievable goals, be brave enough to give things time to evolve but also be flexible enough to make changes when it is recognised that something might not be working.

It is easy for players and clubs to say 'We want promotion', but how do they want to do it?

Do they recognise every element they need to fulfil as individuals and team members and, more importantly, are they willing to do those things every single day? Are they prepared to take responsibility for the things that will make them a better performer and valued team member? Are they willing to listen to team-mates and take criticism, as well as praise, when they may need a kick up the back side? Are they prepared themselves to be the ones doing the kicking up the back side? Are they brave enough to keep trying to do things a certain way for long-term gain when cutting corners for a short-term benefit is the easy option?

When you have a group of players and staff who all get the importance and value of each of those things then you have a strong team with a real sense of, and pride in, its identity.

We know what our vision is for Nottingham Forest Football Club, we want everyone involved - fans, staff, players and directors alike - to be proud of their association with Nottingham Forest Football Club, we want this football club to value its identity and enjoy the plaudits that come as a result of the way the football club does things and conducts itself.

Our last two games at home against a strong Blackburn side and away to an in-form Peterborough showed some of the characteristics we are looking to engender in the players - a determination not to be beaten, patience and good decision-making in possession.

You could argue we didn't get what we deserved from either game, our second half performance against Blackburn warranting the three points and our patience and composure at Peterborough warranting a much bigger margin of victory.

But when a team is evolving in the way that we still are, you have to take the positives, of which there were many, and learn from the disappointments.

I was especially pleased at Peterborough because having seen Darren Ferguson's side in their previous two games at Hull and Barnsley, where they scored five goals in total and were 2-0 up inside half-an-hour in each game, patience was always going to be paramount.

We knew they would get 10 men behind the ball from the off and try to hit us on the break when we lost the ball. We had hammered it into the players in the short time we had to prepare for the game not to lose the ball 10 yards either side of the halfway line. If that meant patiently passing it around the back waiting for space to open up, or playing balls into the channels to try to win second balls, then so be it.

I'm the first to admit that we didn't get it right all of the time, especially towards the end of the first half, but in terms of us having a platform to go and win the game it was mission accomplished. When Peterborough inevitably attacked more after the break the game opened up, there was more space for us to utilise and in the end we ran out worthy winners.

You will be a key part of any success we enjoy and we are very grateful for how positive and effective the supporters have been so far this season. Just as we continue to encourage the players, we continue to urge you to show patience and keep supporting your local team.

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