Do you have to have been a great player to be a great manager?
A hotly argued issue with strong feelings on both sides not unlike the great B debate. ( I refuse to spell out the word). Both sides can cite examples to prove their case. Jose Mourhino was a journeyman footballer in the Portuguese League, his highest number of appearances was for the grimly named Comercio and Industria. Hardly Real Madrid or Barcelona. Despite this modest success on the field he has gone on to manage and win the English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Leagues, in the process garnering 25 major honours. No one else has matched this achievement.
On the side of the argument that says being a great player means that you become a great manager is Pep Guardiola. Pep, as a utility defender played over 320 games for Barcelona, was part of the great Johan Cruyff side as well as playing 47 times for Spain. His achievements as a manager are spectacular, he has won 28 major titles, mainly in Spain and Germany before coming to England to develop arguably the best team the Premiership has ever seen.
What about Sir Alex Ferguson. His playing career was confined to Scotland, which with all due respects to our friends north of the border is hardly the highest quality football in Europe. He played for Rangers and Falkirk, (many more games for Falkirk), as well as playing 7 times for Scotland.
Not a stellar playing career yet Ferguson is the most successful English manager with 38 trophies. He managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013 a spell which surpassed even the great Matt Busby`s reign.
What was the secret of his success? Would he be successful today managing prima donnas like Paul Pogba? Finally consider Arsene Wenger. He only played as an amateur albeit at a senior level, but produced what today is still statistically the finest team ever to play in the Premiership, the Arsenal side of 2003/04 which went the whole season unbeaten and will for ever be known as the Invincibles. I think he qualifies as a great manager, not only playing some of the finest football we have seen in the last 20 years, but also managing the move to the Emirates stadium whilst keeping the club mainly in the top four and financially robust. So whichever side you are on there is plenty of evidence to back your case.
So what makes a good manager. Firstly he ( and I now suppose we have to say she as well) has to have the respect of the players. If the manager has been a great player this is an inbuilt advantage. He has to have motivational skills and a deep knowledge of the game to develop tactical plans, and an ability to assess how to get the best out of each individual player. He also has to be able to inspire fear. I am sure you have your own list. The important fact is that a good manager can bring success wherever he goes. Of course football is now such a lucrative business for the top teams that they generally employ proven individuals. So what are to make of Ole Solskjaer`s appointment at Manchester Utd? Would any of the other top teams in Europe such as Barcelona, Real Madrid or Inter Milan have backed someone managing in the Norwegian League. I think not. The bookies make Solskjaer third favorite to be sacked first this season at 6-1. Favorite is Marco Silva at 7/4, then Steve Bruce at 4-1. You can get 100-1 on Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
By Hawks director Jeff Hooper from Saturday’s programme against Hadley in the FA Cup.