Managers in the Making

Thierry Henry was the centre of speculation last week when it was reported that he had verbally agreed to become the manager of Aston Villa. Arsenal’s all-time top scorer left his punditry role at the end of last season to focus more on his coaching role with Roberto Martinez for the Belgium national side, where he helped to take the Red Devils all the way to the semi-finals.

But amid all the rumors the new Aston Villa owners came out and said that they were backing Steve Bruce, and he would stay in the hot seat at Villa Park. It wasn’t Henry’s time to show what he’s got just yet, but the Frenchman has said that management is his long-term ambition and I’m sure many fans would like to see him at their club.

But being a great player doesn’t always translate to instant success as a manager. Gary Neville found that out with his brief spell at Valencia a couple of years ago. It was always going to be tough for Neville in Spain as he doesn’t speak fluent Spanish and the expectation at a club like that is huge for a manager with no experience.

Alan Shearer also had a tough time in his managerial job at Newcastle. Shearer is the Premier League’s all-time top scorer and one of England’s best ever players, but he couldn’t save the Magpies from relegation in 2009. He took charge with eight games to play and won just five points from a possible 24, as Newcastle were relegated to the Championship. I would be interested to see if these two would consider another go at management because they have learned a lot more now.

Maradona is another famous example, as he took charge of Argentina in 2008. He oversaw a 6-1 defeat to Bolivia in World Cup qualifying, and despite making it through and winning his opening games of the tournament, was exposed by a 4-0 defeat to Germany in the quarterfinals.

Being a manager is one of the toughest gigs in sport and today there’s no room for failure. If you have a streak of bad results there is instant pressure from the media, the fans and eventually the board, and there is always somebody waiting to take your place. Patience isn’t a word in the dictionaries at most football clubs now and they demand instant impact.

Some of the world’s top managers today were great players not so long ago, so we know that is possible to carry that success through from the pitch to the sideline. Zidane, Guardiola, Simeone and Pochettino have all been doing amazing things since retiring as players not too long ago.

And now there are two Premier League greats who do have the opportunity to show their managerial prowess this season. Super Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard has already shown his passion and demand for high standards at Rangers when he revealed he gave his players a half-time rant in their friendly with Wigan. It seemed to work too as his team came out and scored three in the second-half to win 3-0. After five games in charge, his side are still yet to concede a goal and are on track to qualify for the Europa League.

Gerrard was a very intelligent player that could be tough when he needed to be. Now he’ll need to use those attributes to build a solid team and keep them motivated.

Lampard has a long season ahead of him with Derby and the Championship is one of the toughest leagues now with so many clubs challenging for promotion. The board will likely expect Frank to reach the playoffs and it won’t be easy, but Lampard is a winner and has the leaders mentality to drive his players to be the best they can be.

I think bringing Jody Morris onboard was one of the best moves for Lampard. You need good staff that you can trust and that bring quality to areas that you might lack as a new manager. If someone knows about the next upcoming stars it’s Jody, and he has done well for Chelsea’s youth academy helping them win a number of trophies. Now that he’s Frank’s assistant I hope they will stick together for a long-time and build something great.

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