Management Philosophies of Leading Football Managers

Management Philosophies of Leading Football Managers

What does the ideal manager look like to you. A man in a suit who walks around the work space looking out for signs of inefficiency and calling out non productive employees, holding meetings and briefings periodically?  Some years back , a senior colleague once told me that a particular individual whom we haven’t come to know fully yet doesn’t have the personality of a great manager. Whatever his reason was, he was convinced that his thoughts were correct. He cited a number of instances and even drew comparisons with individuals who have occupied such positions in the past. 

We were having this conversation until it came to a point where we completely disagreed. There isn’t a particular behavior or personality trait that automatically qualifies or pre-determines one as a good or effective manager. Luckily, he was into football just like me, so I drew him to what he was familiar with. Based on the personalities of different successful football managers, I would like to analyze some managerial methods used among successful coaches.

Jose Mourinho (Pressure Cooker): In 2004, he took a relatively unknown FC Porto team to Champions League glory. Arguable the best football manager in the history of the game,  Jose Mourinho is known for pressuring his players into achieving their goals. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how the results are achieved. In an interview years back, Mourinho once said that he prefers to play stupidly and come out with maximum points than impress the fans with beautiful football with nothing to show for it in the end. This philosophy worked in his first spell at Chelsea where he won the domestic league twice consecutively, worked at Inter – Milan where he won the  Champions League after eliminating Barcelona with 10 men in the semi finals, even though he never was the favorite .

This method worked effectively in his early years as a manager but started failing as some footballers didn’t buy the idea of any individual putting them in unnecessary pressure or stress. He fell out with Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Mesut Ozil and others at Real Madrid leading to his shameful dismissal without achieving much success at the end of his spell there .

It also Failed in his second spell at Chelsea after it was rumoured that the players ganged up against him, leading to speculations of deliberate under performance from the Boys which lead to his dismissal. A similar thing also happened at Manchester United. He is also known for his hair dryer treatment of players and physical confrontations. As scenes abound where he could be seen kicking the water bottle angrily in disapproval of an action.

Pep Guardiola (The Tactical Extrovert) : He is known for his tactical prowess and for inventing the tiki – taka . He believes the way you play matters more than the results. He once said that he would be happier playing well, even if he doesn’t win the game eventually. Many consider him the best current active manager as he has won the Champions League trophy twice and has also won domestic titles in Spain, Germany and England.

Still many have criticised his success based on the fact that he always spends heavily on purchasing players, and that he hasn’t been tested with a smaller or less funded Football team. He is also known to have a close bond with many of  his players although he never really worked well with players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Yaya Toure. 

Joachim Lowe (Tactical Introvert): A world-class manager known for his tactical abilities. Arguably one of the best tacticians the game has ever seen. In a knock out match against Ghana in 2014, he brought in a substitute who scored the crucial equalizer in just his first touch of the game. He won the World Cup in 2014, a bronze medal in 2006 and 2010 respectively. He is the silent type of manager who sits,  always analysing the game. Successful in his own light. His players liked and respected him.

Still he fell out with Ballack and later on Mesut Ozil. And crashed out in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup.

Sir Alex Fergusson (The Father Figure): The most successful coach in the history of English Football with ,13 domestic titles, two UEFA Champions League trophies and a lot more. His fatherly approach helped the club achieve extraordinary feats with very average players. He just simply brought out the best in them. He scolded when necessary and commended when necessary .

Yet, many felt he should have done more in European Football considering his managerial longevity. 

Jurgen Klopp (The Motivator): After his 3-0 loss to Barcelona in the Semi finals of the 2018/2019 Champions League,  this is what Klopp had to say:

“What did I say to them after the game? I said that I am really proud of them, that I liked a lot of things about the game..I don’t have to think about the next game against Barcelona yet, we have Newcastle and that will have all of our focus. We will go to the hotel, have a proper sleep, get up in the morning and fly home…Whatever happens, these boys, I couldn’t be more proud of them. People who haven’t seen the game will see the result and say strange things about it, but they always strike back in these kind of games.”

In the return leg, his boys managed to overturn the three goal deficit when they scored four unreplied goals against Barcelona, eventually given him his first UCL trophy. He is known as a good motivator with a close bond with his players.

Yet many consider his track record of losing so many finals as a dent in his managerial career.

Zinadine Zidane (The Silent Confident Boss):  With three Champions League trophies consecutively, Zidane stands as one of the most successful managers in the game’s history. His cool, calm, and relaxed approach enabled his players play with full confidence and maximum self expression. He had good players, and he was a three time winner of the FIFA Player of the year; the confidence coming from these can hardly be ignored.

People believe he still should try out smaller teams that don’t have elite footballers to prove his worth.

These are very successful Managers,  with very different Personalities and Management styles .So what kind of personality should a manager have?

Well, it depends on where and who you are managing, and how the results are measured.

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