Football coaching is an incredibly tough job. Coaches are under a huge amount of pressure, they are celebrated when their teams win, but a string of poor performances more often than not leads to the sack. Coaches need to plan tactics for every match and make tough decisions regarding who to start, who to rest, and so on, all the while ensuring that their players are happy.
It is often assumed that great players will make great coaches, as surely they will have an excellent understanding of the game. However, this is not always the case and often it is the less celebrated players that enjoy successful coaching careers, such as Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson. On the other side of the coin are players such as Diego Maradona, who has not had any great success as a coach, and Pele, who has never tried his hand at coaching.
However, as with anything, there are some exceptions to this rule and here we will take a look at three great players who have gone on to become fantastic coaches.
Many agree that Pep Guardiola is the most influential coach of the last few decades. He is renowned for his attention to detail and his focus on possession play. He is also known for selling players who don’t fit his style, regardless of how good they are as individuals.
Guardiola began his career in the Barcelona youth system before graduating to Johan Cruyff’s famous Dream Team. He played as a deep-lying midfielder and was part of the team that won Barcelona’s first Champions League title in 1992. He also won 6 La Liga titles, the first four of which were back to back.
Towards the end of his time with Barcelona his presence was diminished due to injury, but he was still considered to be amongst the team’s best. He then spent some time with a variety of clubs around the world before retiring from playing. The only area where he failed to excel as a player was on the international stage, he was capped just 47 times for Spain and he missed Euro 1996 after an argument with the management.
After retiring from playing, Guardiola took over at Barcelona’s B team. Having been brought up in their youth system and playing for the club for such a long time, he knew exactly how things worked there. After just one season, he was promoted to the senior team and soon became known for his ruthless philosophy. He sold many of the aging big names, such as Ronaldinho and Deco, and replaced them with players from the B team and youth system. He also signed Dani Alves and Gerard Pique, both of whom achieved great things with the club.
During his first season in charge, Barcelona won the famous sextuple, the only club to win 6 trophies in a year. He then went on to take the team to a new level and along the way helped develop Messi into the player he is today. Under Guardiola, Barcelona won La Liga three times, the Champions League twice and the Copa del Rey twice.
After four years at Barcelona, Guardiola moved on to Bayern Munich where he continued to be successful, winning the Bundesliga every year he was there. At present Guardiola is manager at Manchester City where he claimed the league title in his second season in charge. This season the team are still dominating and many expect them to win the title once again.
Guardiola’s tactics have been described as tiki-taka. This is a form of football that places an emphasis on short passes and possession. However, while many teams have tried to copy Guardiola’s tactics, none have enjoyed the same success.
This is probably due to the flexibility in Guardiola’s teams. While he prefers the 4-3-3 formation, and the defence and midfield usually remain in place during a build-up, the final third is given a large amount of freedom.
Guardiola has insisted on many occasions that keeping the ball is key. Rather than kicking the ball out blindly, he tells his players to stay patient and look for passes. He also ensures that players are always aware of their position and are ready to win back the ball whenever they lose it.
His influence can also be seen on the international stage. While managing Barcelona, Spain won the World Cup in 2010 and the Euro in 2012. The Spanish squad contained many Barcelona players and the tiki-taka philosophy was evident in their play. Similarly, while he was at Bayern Munich, Germany won the World Cup. Now with him in charge of players such as Raheem Sterling, Delph, Stones and Walker at Manchester City, there has been a noticeable improvement in the England team.
Few have had careers to match Guardiola’s and he is certain to go down in footballing history as one of the most successful managers of all time.
Many consider Zinedine Zidane to be one of the greatest players of all time. He was known for his amazing first touch and his ability to dribble his way out of tough situations.
Zidane began his career at AS Cannes where he helped them to their best ever finish to date, fourth in Ligue 1. He then moved to Bordeaux where he began to attract international attention. His next stop was Juventus where he won two consecutive Serie A titles, and during that time, he helped France win the 1998 World Cup. In 1998 he also won the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA Player, which he won again in 2000.
Zidane was then purchased by Real Madrid, for a then world record fee, where he won more titles and awards. He was at the peak of his career when the infamous head-butt occurred at the 2006 World Cup. The incident led to Zidane retiring from football, and it remains an iconic moment in football history.
It wasn’t long before Zidane joined Real Madrid in a non-coaching role, but he was soon working as Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant. When Ancelotti was dismissed, Zidane began working with the B team and it was not long before he was back working for the senior team.
Rafa Benitez was sacked as Real Madrid coach and Zidane was appointed head coach. While he was relatively inexperienced, his time as a player and his reputation helped him win the squad over. He manged to unify the team, he won the La Liga once and the Champions League once during his two and a half years as coach.
He is still in the early stages of his coaching career, but he has already enjoyed glittering success. He is currently considered a cup specialist, due to his success in the Champions League, but he has plenty of time to change this, and many are looking forward to seeing what his next move will be.
Didier Deschamps will always be known as one of France’s greatest players. He was an excellent defensive midfielder and a great leader. He played for a number of clubs, such as Marseille and Juventus, and always enjoyed great success. He was the youngest captain to lead his team to the Champions League title, with Marseille in 1993, and he won two Ligue 1 titles with the club.
When he moved to Juventus, his success continued with three Serie A titles and another Champions League title. He spent five years there before he ended his club career with short spells at Chelsea and Valencia.
Deschamps began his coaching career with AS Monaco and then spent four years with the team as they reached the Champions League final in 2004. He then moved on to Juventus where he played an important role, despite only being there for one season.
Juventus was in the middle of the Calciopoli scandal in 2006, which led to them being stripped of their Serie A title and relegated. This is when Deschamps arrived and he managed to guide the team back to Serie A in just one season, despite them selling off many of their first team players.
However, his managerial career really took off when he returned to the place it started for him as a player. He led Marseille to their first Ligue 1 title in 18 years. Marseille also won the Copa de la Ligue three years in a row.
His success in Marseille led to the French Football Federation hiring him as their manager after the Euro 2012. Deschamps then led the French national team to the 2014 World Cup final and the finals of the 2016 Euros, losing to Portugal in extra time.
This summer he won the World Cup with the team, making him one of the few to win it as both a player and a coach. The win came 20 years after France last won the tournament, when Deschamps was part of the team.