THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Managers who weren't players

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10 Apr 2012 12:24 #649390 by Bordeaux Education
First of all, I will point out the shortcomings of the thread premise myself. All the players were managers, of course, but to no great degree. Nigel Adkins, who reminded me to start this thread, was actually a professional footballer much to my surprise.

Anyway, when Wenger and Houllier came on the English scene, there was much talk about their lack of playing experience linked to their more academic approaches to coaching. Wenger, in particular, being a revolution at Arsenal, of course, but Houllier's work at Clairefontaine being show up as signs of the more intellectual approach to management.

Since, of course, we have had Mourinho, AVB and, in rugby, Stuart Lancaster but it still seems to be the received wisdom that ex-pro-players make the best managers. While some naturally talented players like Bobby Moore appear not to be able to pass on their skills to lesser players, other talented players like Clough and Klinsmann have had no problems. Arithmetic tells us, however, that most managers are probably journeymen.

I don't really know where I am going with this but I do wonder whether, in the reactionary world of football, it will ever become the norm that ex-players aren't automatically regarded as the best candidates. Of, course, it wasn't that long ago that many managers had not played professionally
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10 Apr 2012 12:26 #649391 by Jimmy Bignutz
I wouldn't say Klinsmann had no problems.
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10 Apr 2012 12:56 #649412 by Bordeaux Education
Well, neither did Clough but you know what I mean.
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10 Apr 2012 15:58 #649528 by Ibn Pickthall
Ron Noades had a dabble at management, very briefly with Palace and then a more sustained stint with Brentford. I'm pretty sure he never played professionally, I don't know about semi-pro or other levels.

His involvement and background with footy was more to do with ownership / business ventures and this obviously afforded him a way into management. I don't think he ever took a management post up again after he left Brentford in 2000; despite the successful promotion of 98/99 the following year and a half was pretty poor on-field and matched with catastrophe off it. I'd imagine the experience put him off. I also wonder how much of his management 'ability' was supported by a strong back-room staff. He'd frequently leave home games early in order to fly-off to Spain.
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10 Apr 2012 16:08 #649531 by marsupialman
Arrigo Sacchi. Shoe salesman.
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10 Apr 2012 18:12 #649602 by Bordeaux Education
I never knew that. His quote "I didn't realise that, to be a jockey, you had to be a horse first" is brilliant.

Also, looking him up led me to this article on the same subject
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10 Apr 2012 20:07 #649639 by 1974ddr
Does Joao Saldanha qualify? I believe he had a short professional career before going into law and journalism, then managed Botafogo and the Brazilian national side leading up to the 1970 WC finals. Allegedly he was sacked and replaced by Zagallo before the tournament for political reasons / refusing to pick players the President wanted in the side.
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11 Apr 2012 07:43 #649780 by steveeeeeeeee
There are quite a few in the top tier of Portuguese club football, where it's becoming the norm, post Mourinho.

From the top of my head:
Vitor Pereira (FC Porto) only played low-level junior football, giving it up to go to university.

Leonardo Jardim (Braga), Pedro Caixinha (Nacional), Rui Vítioria (Guimarães) all went straight into management, moving up the ranks quickly through managing junior sides, then senior teams in the lower leagues before being given their breaks. They are probably the 3 best young managers in Portugal right now.
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11 Apr 2012 08:17 #649785 by Antepli Ejderha
In the 80s I think Lawrie Lawrie McMenemy was the only top flight manager never to have played professional football, saw that on football focus I think. He was an ex-Coldstream Guard according to wikipedia.
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11 Apr 2012 09:18 #649792 by Pietro Paolo Virdis
Arrigo Sacchi, or was it Bielsa, when questioned whether managers who never had any football career to speak of, could be as good managers as great players.

I can't for the love of me remember what it was, though, so this post is really pointless and a waste of your time.
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11 Apr 2012 10:59 #649818 by Bordeaux Education
Interesting. I had assumed that most of these coaches had come from an academic and/or teaching background that had lent them a more analytic and, possibly more importantly, more interrogative manner to existing coaching and management.

However, this is, perhaps obviously, a generalisation. I do wonder if, if you haven't played, you put more emphasis on the team, coaching, nutrition or tactics than collecting together the best players. I am not sure that all these managers did this or not though
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11 Apr 2012 11:03 #649819 by Gangster Octopus
I don't think that the guy who once offered me a job ever played football: Mark Goldberg.
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11 Apr 2012 11:25 #649824 by treibeis
In Germany, there's been

- Volker Finke (16 years in charge of SC Freiburg; never played above the regional fourth division)

- Christoph Daum (managed title-winning teams in three different countries; played for Cologne's reserves and worse)

- Erich Rütemöller (managed two teams in the Bundesliga and had loads of different jobs at the German Football Association; playing career similar to Daum's)

And probably loads of others.

As well as several who have been erroneously labelled as "non-footballers" (former national coach Erich Ribbeck, for example, who played in the pre-Bundesliga top flight. Or Helmut Schulte, who (I think) had a few run-outs for Fortuna Köln when they were in the second division).
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11 Apr 2012 16:43 #650002 by Defensive minded
Mirko Slomke played Kreisliga. I might have played against him.

Apparently, Ralf Rangnick started his career as a manager at the age of 25 while playing for a different team. I wonder how he coped with fixture clashes.
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11 Apr 2012 19:35 #650081 by Jobi1
Cap-wearing, goatee-sporting, perennial relegation battler Serse Cosmi (currently presiding over Lecce's inevitable disappearance from Serie A) never played as a pro.

A more famous name still active on the benches of Italy, Zdeněk Zeman, never played either to the best of my knowledge.

Has Roy Hodgson ever kicked a ball in anger?
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12 Apr 2012 08:33 #650283 by Etienne
Hodgson played non-league.

Brendan Rodgers playing career ended aged 20.
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30 Apr 2012 11:51 #658637 by Bordeaux Education
Of course, yes, the current England manager elect. Now if he does well, that will be an interesting precedent.

As it is, how long before Terry or Gerrard says to him "What the fuck would you know, you never even played"
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