Why Football Legends May Not Be the Best Coaches

On 29th June 1986, it was one of the ecstatic evenings in Mexico City filled with loud chants, not because of any drug cartel incidents but because Diego Maradona and Argentina had touched the sky.

There he was, Argentina’s prodigal son hoisting 6 kilograms of gold in his hands, known to be football’s most prized asset, the World Cup trophy. They had defeated West Germany 3-2 in the final.

24 years later in South Africa, it was all gloom and doom for Argentina and their prodigal son. Maradona and his team had been thrashed 4-0 by Germany and as the saying goes “revenge is a dish best served cold and as a whole”. The Germans had had their revenge for the second time.

Germany’s first revenge match was in the Italia 1990 World Cup final when they beat Argentina and Maradona as player

That 4-0 loss signalled the end of Maradona’s 2-year tenure as head coach of Argentina which he even blamed Paul The Octopus for Since then, his managerial career has gone so down that he could drill oil with his last job in the 2nd tier of Mexican football.

 

The night of 23rd May 2007

The night of 23rd May 2007 will always be remembered by AC Milan fans. In Athens, AC Milan had won their 7th Champions League title after beating Liverpool 2-1 as revenge for the defeat they suffered in Istanbul 2-years ago.

3 faces that the Rossoneri can recognize at 3:00 AM in the night when awoken from their sleep, had contributed to yet another European triumph. Little did anyone know what the future held.

Clarence Seedorf, Filipo Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso would later return to the San Siro as coaches rather than players. However, none of the three would endure a fruitful spell like they did when they were players.

Genera Gattuso who recently turned manager and leading AC Milan has enjoyed both good and bad times at the club. (Image Credit: Fox Sports Asia)

Seedorf was appointed in January 2014 and led the side to 35 points out of a possible 57 making it 50% which was deemed inadequate by AC Milan standards only lasting 5 months.

Filipo Inzaghi, who was an offside merchant as a striker, suffered similar fate coaching AC Milan 40 games only winning 14 with a win percentage of 35%.

If Seedorf’s poor performance at the club as coach stirred up a can of worms, what would have been said about Inzaghi’s 35%, who lasted 12 months, 7 more than is the previous counterpart?

Gennaro Gattuso, a player who lived, breathed, ate and bled AC Milan was next in the spotlight picking up the ruins from Vicenzo Montella. He oversaw 83 games as the club’s manager, won 40 and had a win percentage of 48.19

Unlike Seedorf and Inzaghi, Gattuso did something special. He led AC Milan to a Coppa Italia final in 2018 however, the result from that game left a huge mark on his history as a coach because the team was annihilated by Juventus 4-0 with a Gianluigi Donarrumma disaster class.

In the 2018/2019 season, Gattuso oversaw a good season finishing 5th in the Serie A with 68 points, just 1 point behind cross-town rivals, Inter Milan and subsequently missing out on a Champions League spot.  However, AC Milan are no near men!

Gattuso followed suit as his compatriots Seedorf and Inzaghi, however, this was not as merry as the night in Athens 12 years ago. He later left his role as a coach at AC Milan.

 

Newcastle, the year 1996

1996 was a bittersweet year for Newcastle. The club finished second in the Premier League, only 4 points behind the champions, Manchester United.

The sweet part was that the Magpies broke the world transfer record and signed Alan Shearer from Blackburn Rovers for 15million pounds who later became an icon at the club scoring 206 goals in 405 games.

Fast forward to 2009, Newcastle is in dire need of a coach to save them from relegation with 8 games left in the season and who else but their legend?

On April 1st 2009, which incidentally is Fool’s Day. Newcastle appointed Alan Shearer to save the club from relegation and he only managed 1 win out of 8 games. The Magpies were eventually relegated, perhaps he could have done better as a player.

In 2016, Newcastle United unveiled a statue of Alan Shearer at St. James’ park, you and I can be pretty sure, the statue reflected on his career as a player, not so much as a coach.

 

What was the biggest football match between 2003 and 2004?

One would be intoxicated if the answer is not Manchester United vs Arsenal. 3 players that everyone can remember from those fierce battles are Thierry Henry, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.

A lot can be said about the trident’s football prowess as players but I am afraid not much can be said about their coaching careers.

 

Gary Neville at Valencia

 Gary Neville, a decent right back in his prime and a good football pundit on TV, hit the jackpot after being appointed by Valencia for his 1st full managerial job. He started off with a run of 8 consecutive winless games, losing 7-0 to Barcelona and was eventually sacked by Valencia.

By the time of his sacking, he had won only 3 of the 16 league games. Valencia was 6 points clear of relegation and Los Che hadn’t kept a single clean sheet.

Garry Neville like many players turned managers also had a horrid spell at Valencia. (Image Credit: TheIndependent)

Gary Neville is back on TV and is the reference of the proverbial saying, “easier said than done”.

Paul Scholes, a very close friend of Gary shared lots of happy moments together including some intimate ones too. Let’s not forget that kiss between the two players after Scholes scored the winning goal in the Manchester Derby in the 2009/2010 season.

 

Paul Scholes fate at Oldham United

Just like Gary, Paul was on TV as a pundit. He tried his luck in coaching at Oldham United where he was in charge for only 31 days leading the club to 1 win in 7 games. Jesus Christ’s fasting in the wilderness was longer than Scholes’ tenure at Oldham.

Just like Gary, Paul is back on TV. Another reference for the proverb, “birds of the same feather, flock together”.

Titi takes on Monaco

Thierry Henry, one of the best French players of all time, just behind Zidane and Platini, started his career at Monaco before leaving for Juventus. He later joined Arsenal where he won lots of hearts and led many into a lifetime of hell and suffering while supporting Arsenal.

Thiery Henry enjoyed a horrid spell when he went to manage Monaco losing 16 games of the 20. (Image Credit: France24)

In 2019, Thierry Henry tested the shark-infested waters by taking the job at his ailing boyhood club, Monaco. He only oversaw 4 wins in 20 games in the principality. Well, at least he bought Cesc Fabregas at Monaco.

“Titi”, as he is popularly known only lasted 3 months.

However, on the flip side, just as the proverbial saying, “every cloud has a silver lining”. Some great players have turned out just as fine in the field of management.

Roberto Di Matteo guided Chelsea to their first Champions League title in 2012 as an interim manager.

Zinedine Zidane proved that you can be both a great player and coach when he led Real Madrid to an unprecedented 3 Champions League titles.

Zinedine Zidane is among the lucky few to have had a success when he took over management of Real Madrid. (Image Credit: Fox Sports Asia)

There are always two sides, the playing career is majorly the windward side whilst the coaching career is largely the leeward side.

Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s all-time top scorer with 211 goals in more than 600 appearances for the club and today he is back at Stamford Bridge, this time as a manager.

The big question on many people’s lips is whether Lampard who had a good spell at Derby County can have one at Chelsea too. (Image Credit: SoccerChel7)

So, will Frank Lampard become a Paul Scholes or a Zinedine Zidane in terms of coaching? They could be close in terms of football prowess but as coaches, only time will tell!

Article by Derrick Ashimwe

Other stories: How Uganda Cranes Can Get the Best of Senegal

Author: Moses Echodu

Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!

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