‘Trailblazer’ – Stoke City legend uses Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho to build perfect manager



Last week’s column was about building the perfect manager, part one. I’m trying to build the perfect manager with the various elements needed and those I believe fit the bill the best in those various categories.

My choices last week were: Intelligence, Bill Shankly; Courage, Brian Clough; Speech Maker, Tony Waddington and Respect: Sir Alf Ramsey.

So, here goes with part two…

MAN-MANAGEMENT

(Sir Bobby Robson)

Robson was such an enthusiast, such a great lover of the game.

I remember being on one of his coaching courses and his passion for football simply burnt through and couldn’t help but inspire you.

He had the same effect on players who so wanted to play for him.

He was a bit of a trailblazer in terms of the success he had abroad in Spain, Portugal and Holland, while he came as close as any manager to emulating Sir Alf in ‘66.

I so wanted him and England to reach that 1990 World Cup final, but out they went on penalties to the Germans.

And as we found out later, much of his success was achieved while he was fighting a private battle against cancer.

THE CONDUCTOR

(Arrigo Sacchi)

Probably the least known of the managers mentioned here, the Italian was no professional player and so worked his way up the hard way.

He was the conductor of the great AC Milan side of Baresi, Gullit, Rijkaard and van Basten before moving on to the Italian national side.

I studied some of his coaching sessions at close quarters when the Italians were at Alsager College for Euro ‘96.

He was outstanding in how he got his players to play the game without the ball and would start an 11-v-11 game before reducing the numbers of his best team to see how they coped when out-numbered in certain situations. He was fascinating to study and I loved relaying his methods to a coaching forum when I was FA regional director.

COURAGE

(Jose Mourinho)

A manager often needs courage and Mourinho has plenty, as well as a vision and a tactical brain.

He’s a modern-day Cloughie, in many ways, because he’s also a bit of a psychologist who is also so demanding of his players.

Forget the game that was taking place, I remember commentating at Stamford Bridge one year and being fascinated with him on the touchline and how he was imploring his players, top players of course, to fill in the gaps when they had lost possession.

Like Robson, a man he worked with early in his career, he’s succeeded in several countries, but often did so with more of a counter-attacking style of play.

THE PROFESSOR

(Pep Guardiola)

Influenced by Johan Cruyff at Barcelona early in his career, he was a sitting midfielder who could survey all around him and must have learned so much.

As Barcelona manager, he changed the way football was played, then with Manchester City, changed the way it was played in this country.

A huge student of the game, Guardiola perfected the art of building overloads so as to win the ball back and keep it, but it wasn’t just possession and passing for possession and passing sake, it was to win games.

And he’s won a few of them. I remember Thierry Henry, his striker at Barcelona once-upon-a-time, saying Guardiola told his players it was his job to bring them up through the thirds of the pitch, then once in the last third the rest was down to their skill and instinct.

PASSION

(Diego Simeone)

All managers have some degree of passion, but the Atletico Madrid manager takes it to another level.

He manages with a burning desire that sees him go up in flames at times, well almost, and he’s certainly a street fighter who always looks ready to roll up his sleeves and wade in.

He is forever demanding his players to retain a huge tempo in their play and has them defending for their lives.

Simeone encourages his players to defend deep behind the ball, perhaps because they are always the underdogs in Spain against the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

But they can break out at speed against attacking teams who are out of shape and cut through them like a knife through butter to score on the counter-attack.

Just ask Liverpool after their recent Champions League exit at the hands of Simeone.

I take my hat off to Simeone, like I do to all the managers I’ve mentioned here, because they are people we can learn off and must learn off.

And combined into one, they really do form my perfect football manager.





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