The Special Ones (manager talk)

rguilmar

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so funny, I was just coming here to post something about Emery. I think you’re spot on, and I really wonder if Emery shouldn’t be considered an elite manager if he isn’t already. Curious to see how they do next year, but I imagine you count on one hand the number of managers in the world you’d rather have right now.
No doubt there are debates at the bars and cafes in San Sebastián about the best manager from the province of Gipuzkoa (population 700,000), tucked in the eastern corner of the Basque Country along the French border:

Unai Emery
Mikel Arteta
Julen Lopetegui
Xabi Alonso
Andoni Iraola
Imanol Alguicil

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but this is absurd. Emery is near the top of that list though.

If your club needs a manager, just find any random guy at La Concha beach and you’ll likely be just fine.
 

Dummy Hoy

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No doubt there are debates at the bars and cafes in San Sebastián about the best manager from the province of Gipuzkoa (population 700,000), tucked in the eastern corner of the Basque Country along the French border:

Unai Emery
Mikel Arteta
Julen Lopetegui
Xabi Alonso
Andoni Iraola
Imanol Alguicil

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but this is absurd. Emery is near the top of that list though.

If your club needs a manager, just find any random guy at La Concha beach and you’ll likely be just fine.
Someone (the athletic?) had a great article on this…really is amazing
 

Dummy Hoy

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Honestly, I probably posted it. It’s wild to me, and wildly coincidental.
I don't think it's coincidental...basque people obviously have a deep connection to the game and when a whole generation of people share the same characteristics, I think it's probably for a reason. (see, say, French-Canadian hockey goaltenders born in the 1970s)
 

Dummy Hoy

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I wonder if Motta is pragmatic enough for Juve? They strike me as a club that cares not what it looks like, only that it wins.
 

rguilmar

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Allegri sacked by Juve effective immediately, Tuchel officially out at Bayern, Xavi possibly out (again) at Barcelona. Hell of a day.
 

Dummy Hoy

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Three clubs who have completely allowed their brand to supersede their club now find themselves (ala Man U) floundering about like the proverbial naked emperor.
 

rguilmar

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As it relates to Xavi, it looks like the latest fallout is stemming from one of his recent press conferences where he more or less acknowledges Barca’s current financial state and its impact on the transfer window. Nothing earth shattering, and something we all knew. Laporta got pissed about this though. Relations can still be salvaged of course. Joan Laporta is a politician at heart and probably knew what the impact of Xavi’s words would be.

A day or two before Xavi spoke, Victor Font launched a barrage at Laporta, calling him a liar and a fraud. He says that the club is financially no better off now than they were when Laporta was first reelected. Font finished second to Laporta in 2021. Laporta probably saw Xavi’s statement as a betrayal of sorts, even though Xavi didn’t mean it that way.

I was on board with bringing back Laporta in 2021 because it looked like he had a grasp of the financial situation, a plan to get out of it, and success building the club through La Masia. He is an astute Catalan politician and knew at the time what a failure to fix things at the club would mean to him politically and professionally. I’ve soured on a him since and I know some socis have as well. Laporta mortgaged the future, which I understood at the time, but I think the execution of the rebuild has been pretty terrible outside of bringing the kids along from La Masia, which had nothing to do with the money brought it by pulling those levers.

I personally view Xavi’s position at the club to be whatever is politically useful to Laporta. Xavi is popular in Catalunya and with many socis. Laporta came in promising a coach from a list that did not include Xavi, so everyone knows Xavi is not LaPorta’s man. But the manager is useful because of his popularity and the fact that he won’t cost any extra money. If Xavi is viewed as a supporter of Font, then he will not be of use to Laporta. I expect there to be some statement from Xavi that he fully supports the project under the current leadership. Laporta will wait until next season when the club once again fails to meet whatever extremely high goals they have and he will wrap this failure around Xavi’s neck, wiping his hands of the manger and saying “he was never my guy.” Representative Republicanism is messy.

Deco is also on thin ice. His transfers have been at the heart of the problem. Nothing symbolizes his policies more than walking away from a deal for Ivan Fresneda, a talented young RB, when Deco found out Joao Cancelo was available. One was cheap, promising, for-the-future purchase and the other was an expensive loan for a player who was unwanted by several clubs who had him and would be too expensive to buy down the road. For a club in Barca’s position, going for Cancelo was a waste of resources that they cannot get back.
 

the1andonly3003

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As it relates to Xavi, it looks like the latest fallout is stemming from one of his recent press conferences where he more or less acknowledges Barca’s current financial state and its impact on the transfer window. Nothing earth shattering, and something we all knew. Laporta got pissed about this though. Relations can still be salvaged of course. Joan Laporta is a politician at heart and probably knew what the impact of Xavi’s words would be.

A day or two before Xavi spoke, Victor Font launched a barrage at Laporta, calling him a liar and a fraud. He says that the club is financially no better off now than they were when Laporta was first reelected. Font finished second to Laporta in 2021. Laporta probably saw Xavi’s statement as a betrayal of sorts, even though Xavi didn’t mean it that way.
Every sporting club should have their leadership elected by club supporters!
 

rguilmar

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Every sporting club should have their leadership elected by club supporters!
It can lead to some wild rides. The drawback is that supporters tend to be less forward thinking, and the pressure on boards/presidents is to win now. This is especially problematic at clubs who had recent success and the administration needs to keep the good times rolling. This can lead to poor financial decisions/planning (see Barcelona at the end of the Messi era), spending well beyond the clubs means, and even illegal moves. Boards and presidents don’t want to be blamed for a poor season, especially on the heals of great ones. Osasuna, another supporter owned club, was literally a stoppage time goal away from disappearing because their board was so out of line. Some of them even went to jail. Anyways, it can end up being a “kick the can down the road” situation financially, letting someone else deal with the problems when the current board and president are happily retired.

The counter point is a club like Athletic Club in Bilbao. If I remember correctly, the three candidates in the last election were promising to bring in different managers- Marcelino, Bielsa, and Valverde- so the people essentially got to pick the manager. That worked out well. They’re probably the most financially sound club in Spain, if not Europe, and if a board were to try to change the essence of the club they would be shipped out to sea. These clubs do have more financial transparency though, especially the fully member owned clubs who have to report back to their owners (the people) on a quarterly basis, which makes the Barcelona situation even more surprising. We could all see it happening.

I’m a sucker for off field drama. I love it, can’t get enough of it. And supporter elections give me so much of it. Sevilla have gone from golden era to a bottom half of the table team as the Del Nido family has waged an all out father vs. son civil war against itself in the board room. It’s great theater. Until they get so sidetracked by their petty battles that they forget to have the decency to call club legend Jesus Navas who is out of contract.
 

the1andonly3003

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Zomp

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McKenna, the Ipswich coach, would be a shrewd hire. He’s highly regarded as a coach that is destined for success with a big club. He helped Ole out when he was manager at United and he and Carrick were always touted as future managers.
 

the1andonly3003

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Brighton target Kieran McKenna after confirming Roberto De Zerbi exit (telegraph.co.uk)

ouch

“I am very sad to be leaving Brighton, but I am very proud of what my players and staff have achieved with the support of everyone at the club and our amazing fans in the past two historical seasons,” said De Zerbi.

“We have agreed to end my time at Brighton so that the club and I can continue to work in the way that suits each of us best, following our own ideas and visions, as well as our work and human values.
 

Warning Track Speed

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Sadly, it was time. He’ll get some very high profile opportunities.
What's your take here @dirtynine, are you sad he's going? I've got mixed feelings. He showed up and it was off to the races, but these last few months (crippled by injuries, true) have been pretty grim. I get RDZ's ambition and it did light a fire, but the guy's a bit petulant (how many cards for him in <2 seasons?), and he's fallible-- Ansu Fati was paid a fortune (by BHA standards) this year and was a disappointment.

I couldn't watch the @Roma game in the round of 16 until 10 p.m. after a long day, but I watched the whole thing, having a sinking feeling that it could be the high-water mark of my fandom for a spell. I hope I'm wrong, but there's less margin for error with these smaller clubs.
 

CodPiece XL

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I’m just guessing but in all probability he discussed the club’s aspirations with ownership a while back. There was a disconnect. Their ambitions didn’t match his. On quite a few occasions he’s said that he wants to return to Italy and coach. I may be wrong but there’s at least 3 openings for managers in Italy at high profile teams.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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dirtynine

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What's your take here @dirtynine, are you sad he's going? I've got mixed feelings. He showed up and it was off to the races, but these last few months (crippled by injuries, true) have been pretty grim. I get RDZ's ambition and it did light a fire, but the guy's a bit petulant (how many cards for him in <2 seasons?), and he's fallible-- Ansu Fati was paid a fortune (by BHA standards) this year and was a disappointment.

I couldn't watch the @Roma game in the round of 16 until 10 p.m. after a long day, but I watched the whole thing, having a sinking feeling that it could be the high-water mark of my fandom for a spell. I hope I'm wrong, but there's less margin for error with these smaller clubs.
I felt similarly about Europe - it seemed to be marking a peak and the pullback was inevitable. Brighton has continued to grow through a few of these, though - 2 steps forward, 1 back - and IMO the fact that they keep hitting higher highs comes down to Tony Bloom and the approach he’s built into the operation. The club has been ruthless about saying goodbye too soon rather than too late, they don’t cling to success, they are always prepared to replace a role, and turnover does not scare them. This philosophy, combined with a great talent identification system, has been the key to their growth.

I think certainly after last season, RDZ has entertained aspirations of going to a traditional European power, winning trophies, and leaving a mark on the game. It’s obvious Brighton will never be where that happens. They need to be shrewd, replace talent, and keep things harmonious with the players that will be here next year.

The club’s needs and his aligned for a while, and now they don’t really. It’s OK. That said it would be nice if Brighton was seen as a place to win a trophy here and there. Maybe in a few more seasons.
 

wonderland

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What’s Juve’s financial situation?

Napoli would make more sense. He played there, they have money and could turn over their roster to his liking.
 

the1andonly3003

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I felt similarly about Europe - it seemed to be marking a peak and the pullback was inevitable. Brighton has continued to grow through a few of these, though - 2 steps forward, 1 back - and IMO the fact that they keep hitting higher highs comes down to Tony Bloom and the approach he’s built into the operation. The club has been ruthless about saying goodbye too soon rather than too late, they don’t cling to success, they are always prepared to replace a role, and turnover does not scare them. This philosophy, combined with a great talent identification system, has been the key to their growth.

I think certainly after last season, RDZ has entertained aspirations of going to a traditional European power, winning trophies, and leaving a mark on the game. It’s obvious Brighton will never be where that happens. They need to be shrewd, replace talent, and keep things harmonious with the players that will be here next year.

The club’s needs and his aligned for a while, and now they don’t really. It’s OK. That said it would be nice if Brighton was seen as a place to win a trophy here and there. Maybe in a few more seasons.
Perhaps American Express needs to pay a higher fee for the stadium naming rights
 

Kliq

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I thought Poch was getting good results out of a team that was clearly undergoing a major transition. The younger players were growing into their roles and Poch was able to shape the team into his system. This will be a major setback for a Chelsea team that was trending in a positive direction during the second half of the season.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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I thought Poch was getting good results out of a team that was clearly undergoing a major transition. The younger players were growing into their roles and Poch was able to shape the team into his system. This will be a major setback for a Chelsea team that was trending in a positive direction during the second half of the season.
The Guardian reports Chelsea are hot for McKenna. Will be very sad to see him leave Ipswich Town after all he's done there. I'm sure money has a lot to do with it, but why anybody would want to go the Graham Potter route is beyond me.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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The reporting coming around with this is adding a lot of color on what they're trying to go for at Chelsea.

It seems to be several steps beyond the "club has a well established sporting department to maintain philosophical and operational continuity through managers" model that most elite clubs are moving towards and all the way to "the sporting department and front office structure reign so supreme that the manager is more of a minor gameday functionary with no input on transfers and limited input even to parts of his coaching staff".

I'm probably overstating that, but it seems very alien to the European football world and will likely lock them out of any already elite managerial hires.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The reporting coming around with this is adding a lot of color on what they're trying to go for at Chelsea.

It seems to be several steps beyond the "club has a well established sporting department to maintain philosophical and operational continuity through managers" model that most elite clubs are moving towards and all the way to "the sporting department and front office structure reign so supreme that the manager is more of a minor gameday functionary with no input on transfers and limited input even to parts of his coaching staff".

I'm probably overstating that, but it seems very alien to the European football world and will likely lock them out of any already elite managerial hires.
It feels like another example of Boehly et al trying to impose a baseball model on European football.

I think on some level they're also locked into this kind of dynamic by the financial choices they've already made. Pochettino reportedly didn't want to sell Gallagher, a key player and leader for him, or Chalobah, who has arguably been their best CB since coming back from injury. But the club needs to sell those players to book the accounting profit and keep the FFP shell game going so they can go buy Osimhen or whoever this summer.
 

Dummy Hoy

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If I’m McKenna, the rumor I’d take is to go to Brighton (or put in a freebie year at Ipswich). As much as Danny Röhl (bless him forever) showed that one can succeed despite volatile ownership, I wouldn’t touch a club like Chelsea (despite their young talent) or ManU (despite their stature) when I can put my hands on a well oiled machine with some potentially very fun parts without the extra nonsense.
 

OCST

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What a mess. Poch definitely had that very expensive collection of underachievers moving in the right direction. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Boehly is a clown.
 

the1andonly3003

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The reporting coming around with this is adding a lot of color on what they're trying to go for at Chelsea.

It seems to be several steps beyond the "club has a well established sporting department to maintain philosophical and operational continuity through managers" model that most elite clubs are moving towards and all the way to "the sporting department and front office structure reign so supreme that the manager is more of a minor gameday functionary with no input on transfers and limited input even to parts of his coaching staff".

I'm probably overstating that, but it seems very alien to the European football world and will likely lock them out of any already elite managerial hires.
What modern manager would want to go there?

I was going to make a joke that Boehly will hire RDZ, but I bet they are going to find some first time manager to save on the manager salary, after paying three not to coach for them
 

Zososoxfan

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Thrilled Chelsea are losing Poch. Improving on him will be difficult.

Where will Poch end up? There are some interesting openings in Italy, but he never played there and I'm not sure if he has any connections (e.g., through his agent), even though his name would be a hand-in-glove fit.

The Barca clown show continues to amaze.
 

Kliq

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Thrilled Chelsea are losing Poch. Improving on him will be difficult.

Where will Poch end up? There are some interesting openings in Italy, but he never played there and I'm not sure if he has any connections (e.g., through his agent), even though his name would be a hand-in-glove fit.

The Barca clown show continues to amaze.
I thought I heard the rumor was Bayern.
 

Zososoxfan

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I thought I heard the rumor was Bayern.
That would be a great fit, but I didn't suggest it because my assumption is that they go German unless it's for an established star. If only there was such a person out there...

In any event, the only guy that doesn't fit that description in recent memory is Kovac.
 

Kliq

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https://x.com/JacobSteinberg/status/1793363548602847702

I have a lot of time for Kompany as a player and think he was dealt a tough hand this year in the PL but....seriously?
Yeah, not sure what on Kompany's resume as a manager would suggest he should get that gig, but I guess Bayern are having a real hard time filling that position.

Burnley came up to the Premier League with some fanfare and were a trendy pick to finish mid-table, but they were pretty wretched all year and not particularly well-managed. Comparing them to Luton, I thought Rob Edwards got more out of a team with less talent than Kompany, and I don't see him lining up any sweet gigs.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Yeah, not sure what on Kompany's resume as a manager would suggest he should get that gig, but I guess Bayern are having a real hard time filling that position.

Burnley came up to the Premier League with some fanfare and were a trendy pick to finish mid-table, but they were pretty wretched all year and not particularly well-managed. Comparing them to Luton, I thought Rob Edwards got more out of a team with less talent than Kompany, and I don't see him lining up any sweet gigs.
I can only really understand it if they plan to rip the squad apart this summer and next and basically just want a fall guy.
 

teddykgb

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I’ve got a lot of love for that man. The only thing I can say is that I think managing a top side is so different to a relegation scrap. Probably Edward’s did more with less but would have have done more with more? There’s really no universe where Kompany should get a job like Bayern based on what he’s done but maybe I don’t hold his inability to stay up with Burnley against him too much and just look at him as far too green for the politics and pressure of a job like Bayern
 

Dummy Hoy

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I'm also going to push back on the Kompany thing a little.

Basically I think it's a swing for the fences by Bayern...necessitated by their overly dramatic front office situation which has played a large part in the seeming disfunction (CL semi's and a higher Bundesliga points total than last year, but that's besides the point)
that surrounds the club right now. I think there's a chance that Kompany is too green and is not able to handle the pressure (as Teddy alluded too). I also think there's a good chance that he can handle it and will bring some very exciting football to Munich. Even if it's a step too big at this stage in his career (age 38, 5 years in), I think he's going to be an elite manager.

Now, I'm biased towards Kompany, but here's my read as someone who has followed his career for years.

1. One of the most well respected captains and leaders in football when he played. Seems to have man-management skills in abundance, key for coaching at a top club. That could go the other way as he hasn't had to manage huge egos at a top club, but he's certainly shared enough rooms with stars and has always had a good reputation across the board

2. Recognized as one of the smartest players of his day, his tactical acumen seems apparent as a manager as he quickly transformed Anderlecht by playing very progressive and complex football.

3. He then jumped to Burnley and pulled off one of the more unexpected things I've seen which was taking a relegated Sean Dyche team and turning them into a 100 point juggernaut. I don't know how much any of you saw Burnley two years ago but I saw probably 3-4 games and they were electric- one of the most impressive Championship sides I've seen. They just held the ball and sliced teams open going forward, so much movement up front.

4. This past season Kompany refused to budge from his tactical philosophies; given a couple of key losses and a transfer window that didn't yield expected results, Burnley got overrun by more talented sides and got relegated.

5. I don't necessarily have an issue with Kompany not changing his tactics, even if they went down- in fact, I kind of think all of the braintrust at the club was okay with that. Obviously you want to stay in the premiership, but relegation isn't the worst thing if your team isn't ready to stick in the top flight. I think they probably felt like they got a bit lucky with how quickly Kompany turned them around and could afford a yo-yo while building up the club off your parachute monies.

6. I think Kompany wants (ala Pep) to play with such patterns that they need a lot of repetition...he figured better to work on his shit this year even if it wasn't going to get results. I could be way off base and he's actually super naive and that's why they got relegated, but I don't see it that way.

7. I think Bayern is rolling the dice on hitting a home run with a 38 year old that has both tactical acumen and man management skills who has been successful at two smaller clubs by playing scintilating football with other people's players. That said he's still very young and there are some questions he has not answered yet so it's a risky call. I think he absolutely can win at Bayern, but I don't know if that club is in a healthy enough spot to give him that chance.

8. Big risk for Kompany too- if he fails at Bayern, he'll carry a bit of baggage until his next success. I probably wouldn't but I guess it's probably tough to say no to Bayern Munich when you've been at Burnley (a fine club, but it's a different scale.)
 

67YAZ

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re: Kompany - I think we're seeing a slow transition to transition away from "managers" towards "head coaches." Liverpool has just done this exactly - moved from a manager that was at the heart of all the sporting decisions (not necessarily with executive authority in all areas, but was the most influential voice on all concerns) to a "head coach" asked to take control of everything on pitch and to consult on other related matters.

This is part and parcel with the creation of club front offices, which entail a variety of units overseen by directors. In this set up, the "head coach" is really the director of the squad reporting up to a director of football and sitting evenly with recruitment, analytics, facilities, and medical staff.

Managers who came up through the old system and have accrued enough respect and clout don't want to work in that system. They want to be the manager at the heart of the club - I think this is a big part of Poch's ouster from Chelsea. But younger guys like Slot and Kompany who are jumping up to megaclubs for the first time (and therefore have little leverage to negotiate for more authority) are prime targets because they will be amendable to the new structure and can be integrated into the system. My guess is that in 10 years, "head coach" will be the most common job title, and "manager" will be reserved for those guys who have been successful and long-tenured enough at their club to merit a title reflecting their authoritative position.