World news – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is the figurehead, but he’s also a one-off

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Jonathan Wilson

Everyone wants their own Pep Guardiola. This is the dream. They take a club legend who is just starting his coaching career, put him in charge of the reserves for a season, give him the top job, then watch him revolutionize football with a squad based on academy products, and win three championship titles and two Champions League. It’s not just about winning, it’s about winning your way.

This is why so many big clubs have turned to former players with limited or no first-hand experience: Juventus with Andrea Pirlo, Chelsea with Frank Lampard, Arsenal with Mikel Arteta.

It encourages the extraordinary dream that makes so much of what it means to support a club, the feeling that you are different, better, and more worthy than the others, and it’s good for branding to take a popular, recognizable figure around this Feeling for Sale.

The problem for all of these newbies is similar: while they have good ideas and have spent most of their lives playing soccer, they are essentially learning on the job and doing so in full publicity.

You have been to locker rooms and training grounds, have worked with various coaches and managers, have an idea of ​​what works and what doesn’t, what motivates the players and what demoralizes them, but Sch Being better is not enough to become a good teacher.

If something goes wrong, what then? They have no store of memories to refer to. You can’t look back on that time, like Huddersfield when they had that rocky patch but got through it, or Extremadura when they dropped the star striker and found the rest of the team getting more focused, or St. Mirren when you did what the director suggested and kept regretting it.

It’s easy then to lose faith, to reconsider yourself and make changes almost for the sake of the changes. When Arteta suddenly played Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through the middle and began to self-protectively talk about the percentage of winning games, his self-confidence and his authority almost visibly loosened from him.

The problem then becomes where it is Experience should be gained. It’s almost irrelevant to point out that Herbert Chapman started in Northampton or Arrigo Sacchi in Fusignano or Alex Ferguson in East Stirlingshire, as the game was different back then.

The gap between top and bottom was nowhere near as great like right now. Liverpool, Leeds and Nottingham Forest were all second division clubs when Bill Shankly, Don Revie and Brian Clough took over. Matt Busby may have moved straight to Manchester United after training in the Army during World War II, but when he took command they had only won two league titles and none in over 30 years. A visionary manager could then turn a medium-sized team into a giant.

Take on a championship side now, however, and the benefits seem limited. For a former top player, the style of football will not be very familiar. You will be dealing with players who are unable to do the things that you and your teammates could. Perhaps there are problems that the world doesn’t know or that don’t interest it. You will not be promoted; You are viewed as a failure.

Or maybe you get promoted and spend the next few years struggling to survive on a limited budget. Eventually the inevitable happens and you go under to be forgotten, or at least doubted, like Eddie Howe. Or, you survive and are pigeonholed like Sean Dyche or Sam Allardyce, especially when you’ve decided that a straightforward approach is the best way to play for your limited squad.

Being able to with Operating on a tight budget, keeping players in bad shape, carving out a brave point against vastly superior opponents is not really preparation for dealing with celebrity players’ ego and developing a coordinated strategy of attack. Overpower the mass defenses that are weaker teams exercise against you regularly and satisfy fans and directors expecting to be entertained or tackle the complexities of a fixture list that includes regular long-distance travel.

As a Manchester City director said long ago , he wondered if the club should have fired Joe Royle once he promoted them to the Premier League in 2000: « You’re not using the guy who runs the corner shop of a multinational company. « 

Or you could move to another league that appears to be working for Steven Gerrard at Rangers at the moment, but not Gary Neville at Valencia. This brings the complication of operating in a different culture, their teachings may not be directly applicable when returning to the Premier League.

The alternative is to gain hands-on experience as a coach working under a manager in a super club – the path Arteta has taken in Manchester City. It There are tons of assistants out there who have struggled to make the step up. The benefits of first-hand experience of elite-level football are offset by the fact that they never make the final decision and are never the one in the line of fire.

And that means no matter which way there will always be an element of learning in the workplace, but the nature of modern football is to put the manager at the first A Release signs of anger. It’s an impatient world grappling with the idea that someone might be able to correct what went wrong. Sacrifice is preferable to gradual development.

What exactly does what mean? That all managers deserve a certain amount of patience? Probably, although it can equally quickly become apparent that some just don’t fit, and there is clearly a point after a year or two at which it is not inappropriate to expect discernible progress.

But perhaps the most obvious lesson is that the financial structures of modern football render the idea of ​​steady progress useless and very few people who take over a superclub for the first time are likely to have had adequate preparation.

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