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Managers - what makes a good one?


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I ask this partly because I'm not totally convinced Pep is going to prove to be a good manager and partly because I think someone like Adkins probably is a pretty good manager.

Pep as an example (and there are many of them) has worked his way through as a top player and the club he was at thought enough of him to bring him into the coaching set-up and ultimately to make him the first team manager - I don't know what coaching roles he had with Barca before he got the top job?  Once in charge his record was phenominal, but he was asked to manage a group of players almost all of which were schooled in the barca style through their youth system, the output of which included players such as Messi, Inesta, Xabi, Puyol, etc, etc.  An incredible group of players to have coming through the ranks and into the first team at the same time, and a team that to be fair I could probably have managed if the players had any respect for me.  An easy job if you like!

Then if you look at someone like (just an example but it highlights the point), Peter Taylor.  David Beckham once described him as the best coach he'd ever worked with but besides that many many players have said similar things about him.  He worked his socks off through the lower leagues and with lesser teams but was he really any less of a manager than Pep?

I ask the question because as we look for another new manager I wonder if we should bite the bullet and look for someone that isn't necessarily a big name.  We've got nothing to lose because whoever comes in on whatever stupid money they're not going to last long.  If we get a "lesser" name manager he will be cheaper for starters so if it doesn't work out it's a cheaper pay off, but it might work (it did with RDM and he didn't have much managerial experience!), it's possible we could find the next Alex Fergusson.

For me it's as much about the character as anything else, the most important thing is getting in someone that can comand the respect of the players, once you have that you could even put and experience person next to him to help with the tactical side, it really doesn't matter - most of us think we have a better idea tactically that most managers anyway!

 

Just as a though there are a number of managers in the premiership that have done reasonable jobs with much less talented players than we have, not sure I'd want saggy face Redknapp or Aladice or someone like that, Moyes would be a good shout, or even someone from the lower leagues.  The point is, why don't some of these people get a chance at some bigger clubs, it should just be jobs reserved for those few big names.

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From memory, Pep started off managing the Barca B team and won promotion with them. I also think he's overrated, but to his credit he didn't exactly inherit the team, while the players were there, the likes of Xavi and Iniesta were second fiddle to Ronaldinho and Deco, and he was the one that switched it around.

I don't think Fergie is more talented than any other top tier manager, he was just given time and money, and an outrageously good crop of youngsters (and a lions share of generous ref decisions). In his first five seasons United finished 11th, 2nd, 11th, 13th, and 6th, and at one stage was nearly sacked. It took him 7 years to win the League, and that was in large part because of the arrival of Cantona.

Once you're at a club for so long you're in such a strong position that your job becomes a lot easier, you operate under less pressure and you have pretty absolute discipline over the dressing room.

If we do get Jose back how long would he stay even if it was up to him without any input from Roman. 5 years maybe at most? He doesn't like to stay in one place. If we want a manger as successful as bacon face, we need a young manager who still has something to prove and will fully appreciate the opportunity given to him.

AVB came along probably 2 seasons too early, if he had taken over next season after Frank and Ash are gone, and JT is in his final year, things would have turned out a lot differently I feel.

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From memory, Pep started off managing the Barca B team and won promotion with them. I also think he's overrated, but to his credit he didn't exactly inherit the team, while the players were there, the likes of Xavi and Iniesta were second fiddle to Ronaldinho and Deco, and he was the one that switched it around.

AVB came along probably 2 seasons too early, if he had taken over next season after Frank and Ash are gone, and JT is in his final year, things would have turned out a lot differently I feel.

 

I'm not sure you're totally correct about Xavi I think he has been a mainstay of the Barcalona side for years now, I think Iniesta was mainly used as a sub, but then Deco was in his prime, and he was a damn good footballer.

 

AVB came along 2 seasons too early regardless of the players we had or have, he had served no apprenticeship that indicated he was ready for 1 of the top jobs in European football and thats how it panned out.

 

I think the same thing would happen if we gave the job to Laudrup around who a bandwagon seems to be forming, he needs to prove himself much more.

 

Of the lower level managers that are out their in England really only David Moyes fits the bill as someone who has proved their worth with a mid level club and brought them a level of success.

 

As you know we'll go for the next 'big' thing and 6 months later (if that) we'll be looking again.

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My take:

 

Tactical versatility: IMO, a manager who expects to be successful in more than one country should probably change their formation to counter the opposition's strengths. For example, Jose's 4-3-3 confounded opposition managers when he introduced it back in 2004/05 (he used something resembling a 4-4-2 diamond at Porto). Similarly, a manager should also have several reserve formations in case Plan A doesn't work out - that way, the players can slot fairly seamlessly into another formation while the opposition manager is forced to rethink things. 

 

Also, against better teams you might focus more on defensive positioning because you know they are gonna come at you constantly. On the other hand, if you're playing in less important games and have a recently formed squad, then you might focus on creating a tactical understanding between each squad member in training. 

 

In addition, your squad be able to play in different formations against different opposition. For instance, against a team that's parking the bus you might want a 'big man' up front to hold the ball up as many of his teammates are rushing in, thereby overwhelming the defence. Against a more attacking side, a quick striker can easily expose less pacy defenders who are playing with a high line.

 

You might also play certain players in certain positions to try and suppress a key member of the opposition (i.e - Valencia vs Cole). 

 

Training: However, each group of players shouldn't really be tasked with a uniform training regime - some players thrive on work, whereas others really hate training a lot. Also, the skill sets a defensive midfielder would require are different to those required by a centre forward. 

 

Intelligence on the transfer market: This is especially necessary if you're managing a club without much money or if you have to compete against clubs of similar standing to avoid relegation. A reliable, comprehensive network of scouts should help you find 'diamonds'. Maybe selling players at somewhere near their peak value when you know they won't get any better like Arsene Wenger has done would be a good idea. Not changing half your squad every 5 minutes ala Mark Hughes is also a start.

 

Unfortunately, this is outside of the control of more than a few managers (i.e - Chelsea).

 

Man-management and motivational skills: Knowing what makes your squad tick is vital. Are they an ambitious bunch? Do they like to be reassured a lot? One of Benitez's main faults is that he doesn't seem to be a great motivator. Hence his seemingly ineffectual half-time speeches.

 

Maintain cordial relationship with board: Where possible - at Chelsea this can be impossible to maintain for long, as RDM and others will testify.

 

Build a rapport with fans: This is pretty obvious. Having the support of the fans really emboldens the side. 

 

Media manipulation skills: SAF is a master at this - you can use the media to put pressure on opposing managers that are struggling, or put pressure on opposing teams that are expected to beat you, or try and fire your own team up. You can also single out individual opposition players that don't appreciate the spotlight (i.e - Torres).

 

Pitch/weather conditions: Playing on a long, muddy pitch with lots of holes? You should probably forget about passing on the ground, then. Watching a Serie A game involving Fiorentina vs Napoli early this season, it was striking how Fiorentina's passing game was disrupted by the pitch's extremely shoddy nature. 

 

Hire a competent assistant manager: Again, not always in the manager's control, but the assistant manager should be your second set of eyes. They will probably pick up on things that you miss which are important. Maybe a fullback is getting too much room to put in crosses or something like that. 

 

Integrating youth: Especially in countries which require a certain amount of nationals from the same country (like Russia), in clubs which are participating in Europe (which mandate a certain amount of youth players in the squad) or in clubs without much money. 

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I also forgot to mention that set pieces are potentially vital. When set up properly, they can allow you to be a legitimate threat in the box or they can allow you to launch quick counter attacks, especially if the opposition has committed most of their players forward and you have quick players. 

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I'm not sure you're totally correct about Xavi I think he has been a mainstay of the Barcalona side for years now, I think Iniesta was mainly used as a sub, but then Deco was in his prime, and he was a damn good footballer.

 

AVB came along 2 seasons too early regardless of the players we had or have, he had served no apprenticeship that indicated he was ready for 1 of the top jobs in European football and thats how it panned out.

 

I think the same thing would happen if we gave the job to Laudrup around who a bandwagon seems to be forming, he needs to prove himself much more.

 

Of the lower level managers that are out their in England really only David Moyes fits the bill as someone who has proved their worth with a mid level club and brought them a level of success.

 

As you know we'll go for the next 'big' thing and 6 months later (if that) we'll be looking again.

 

I agree, I don't understand the hype around Laudrup, he's doing no better than Rodgers did last season and he has the advantage of having Michu in the team. I suppose the same people would have been advocating for Rodgers and Lambert last season, and look how they've ended up. At least the likes of Moyes and Martinez have proved their worth over a longer period of time, but forming an opinion of someone because they've managed to meet expectations at Swansea for half a season seems a bit ridiculous.

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