Football (Soccer) Manager — a job anyone can do?

Chapter Five in the book “Italian Job” (Gianluca Vialli, Gabriele Marcotti) describes the job of football (soccer) manager, probably the most criticized role in the world. Seldom you’ll hear that manager’s contribution to the game was crucial when they team wins. Or at least they’ll share the credit with the team. But when team loses, it’s almost always their fault.

Gianluca Vialli is really good example. From full-time player he become a player manager of Chelsea (Februay 1998): “it’s like giving an eighteen-year-old the keys to a Ferrari”. There is a believe that only football players can become great football managers. It can add value, for sure. But look at Jose Mourinho. The special one had to argue that having been a top player is not necessary. Luckily, his results are undeniable. On the other hand, there are great football players that never made it as a managers (Lothar Matthaus).

Why people critize football managers?

  1. “They are outnumbered by players and the press, not to mention supporters”
  2. “They are seen as privileged. The privilege stems from the fact that the rest of the football world — club officials, the press, fans, players — is generally convinced that they, too, could do a job in management, given the chance”.
  3. What’s more. Nobody would believe he can play football better than Messi or Ronaldo, as we perceive them simply different from the average person. “Managers are another matter: anyone can imagine themselves as a manager”.
  4. “You can judge the work of a footballer — without any kind of mediation — because you can see what he dos with your own eyes on the pitch. A manager’s work is once removed: you only see the reflection of his work on the pitch”

No matter what you think, managing people isn’t easy. Especially if they are football stars.