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Example of Good Teamwork and Bad Relationships

Poor Relationships?

Does good teamwork require good relationships between team members? Below is an example that seems to dispel that myth.

Good Teamwork, Poor Relationships?

A Breakdown in Relationship

In 1998, the main striking partnership of Manchester United was Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham. For readers unitiated in European Football, these two had primary responsibility for scoring goals. To do so against good opposition required a great deal of co-operation between them.

During a game at Bolton, an incident occurred that caused a complete breakdown in their relationship. When Bolton scored, Sheringham blamed Cole for it, and Cole then refused to talk to him

The breakdown in relationship was never resolved, and reputedly they never spoke again.

Superlative Performance

In the following season (1998-1999) Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham continued as the main striking partnership, supported by other players. They continued to play games and co-operate on the pitch, but off the field they didn't speak.

During that season, Manchester United achieved a unique treble that no British club had ever achieved. They won:

Cole and Sheringham continued to play together during the next season as well, that is 1999-2000. During that time, with Cole and Sheringham as the main striking partnership, Manchester United set two Premiership League records:

Here we have two people whose relationship was reputedly so bad that they hadn't spoken to each other for over a year. Yet, despite the off-field hostility between them, their co-operation on the field was excellent and they made a significant contribution to, arguably, Manchester United's most successful season ever.


This may be an extreme example, but it illustrates the principle that personal liking, or a harmonious relationship, are not essential for good teamwork. What matters is that the behaviour used (in this case, on the pitch) is one that leads to optimum performance.

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©2013 Team Technology. Further articles/resources that may be of interest include: Personality Test, Personality Type Descriptions, Myers Briggs overview, The Basics of Team Building, What Career is Right for Me?, and Career ideas.