In recent years, scores and scores of ex professional players have made the leap to management, the likes of Steven Gerrard at Rangers, Frank Lampard at Derby County and Chelsea, Ole Gunnar Solskær at Manchester United and Scott Parker at Fulham are just a few examples of big name professionals who have transitioned over to management when their playing career ended? But what does it take to be a top manager? Does being a top standard player automatically qualify you for management?
Obviously players probably have some sort of idea for a while whether or not they want to go into football coaching/management. As we all know, being a professional footballer is not a career that you can continue well into your 40s due to the physical demand of the job. The average age that a footballer retires is at 35 years old, which in the grand scheme of things is actually quite young.
Lots of ex professionals such as Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Micha Richards and Roy Keane step into the illustrious industry of punditry, but pathways like that aren’t for everyone. Frank Lampard tried his hand at getting in front of the camera in a suit for BT for a short while, but at the same time was completing his coaching badges at his former playing club Chelsea, so even then most ex players who want to get into the management industry have an idea that they want to do it, even when taking other avenues for their income.
In the same way that not everyone has what it takes to make a top pundit, not all ex professionals have the key tools and skill sets to become a top manager. Gary Neville is a prime example of this, lasting only 4 months in his job as Valencia manager in La Liga. Good footwork, tough tackling and pin point accuracy shots does not in any way guarantee that you’ll make a top manager, and clearly by the looks of things it takes a lot of time even when in the job and having completed coaching badges to become an elite level football manager.
A good overall knowledge of the game is probably a good place to start, defensively, going forwards, all aspects of the game need a great amount of thought put into them at the same time as being an effective man manager and a good leader, someone who motivates players well. I feel as though Steven Gerrard is a good example of this, this season rangers have an average points per game of 2.68, with a win percentage of 85.29%. They concede 0.5 goals per match, whilst scoring an average of 2.62 goals per 90 minutes. Very strong stats for a manger in only his third season of professional football management.
We can also see that it does take time to get the ball rolling as a manager. Ole Gunnar Solskær is only now starting to see really positive results in the league with Manchester United after joining in 2018. It wasn’t always so rosy for him though, when he was in charge of Cardiff City in 2014 he saw the club get relegated from the Premier League into the Championship, however the situation was most likely vastly different to the situation he is in at Manchester United with regards to available funds and talent to choose from.