“I never realised that to become a jockey you needed to be a horse first.” ~ Arrigo Sacchi
“Once in the 1980s, when Kenny Dalglish was in his first spell managing Liverpool, a journalist at a press conference questioned one of his tactical decisions. Dalglish deadpanned, in his almost impenetrable Scots accent: ‘Who did you play for, then?’ The whole room laughed. Dalglish had come up with the killer retort: if you didn’t play, you couldn’t know.” – Soccernomics
Over the years, football management was exclusively held by a small but yet powerful collective of people in football – those who had played the game before and retired. They purportedly possessed this undeniable and mysteriously innate ability of knowing and having the experience of the game more than an outsider who had not played at their level before, but studied for years to become a coach. Yet, it was something questionable long ago, as there are a few having the prowess to manage a club at the highest levels of football. Now, that quote from Dalglish makes him out to be an outdated man, backed up by his over reliance on English players and quintessential British tactics that he employed with Liverpool in his second stint, which inevitably saw him sacked from his position.
Such as so often happens in football, he was replaced by a Northern Irish, yet continental in the way he wishes his team to play, manager, Brendan Rodgers. He was unable to play football at the top level but has shown himself to be a very competent manager. The Premier League itself, has changed to match this new trend within the industry. The top six clubs in England – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – have all employed managers who did not succeed at the top echelon of football, in their respective playing careers. This has contributed to the Premier League once again becoming more intriguing and compelling than it ever has been.
Thus, is this the answer? To be able to become the zenith of your potential, as a club, should a manager lead you who has no previous playing ability? Has the rule of thumb become ‘Those who can’t play, coach’? Continue Reading