Ole to Man Utd
Frank Lampard to Chelsea
Arteta to Arsenal
Xavi to Barcelona
The question I am asking is, don’t these clubs ever learn from the travails of others? The fact that these new managers enjoyed successful spells with the club back in their playing days either as captains or squad players does not automatically translate to success when they return to the same clubs as managers.
Forget the sentiments and emotional attachment or connection these players once had with the team, do they have the managerial skill to deliver titles for these teams when they return as the man in charge? Recent examples we have seen across Europe have not particularly done any good for any team to continue or adopt this same model.
Frank Lampard is a legend for Chelsea, he won so many titles for them both domestically and in Europe, but was a disaster when he was appointed manager from July 2019 to January 2021. He is one of the greatest players to wear the blue badge but his reign was nothing short of a grand failure that saw him been sacked with the team languishing in 9th position.
Lets look at Ole at Manchester United, he was part of the golden generation under the very Iconic Scots man; Sir Alex Ferguson. He was part of the treble winning side of 1999 and famously remembered for scoring the winning goal in injury time as Manchester United came from behind to win against Bayern Munich, he was appointed as Manchester United manager after the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
He was initially appointed as an interim boss and guided to team to more than 5 straight wins which prompted the board to offer him a long term contract in March 2019. He has spent over 200 million pounds with no silverware to show. He is currently under intense pressure to resign with the teams performances not improving, except for the brilliance of club legend Ronaldo who returned in August.
I’m not done yet. Let’s cross over to the Emirates stadium, home of the Arsenal FC. The team is currently been coached by Mikel Arteta. He was captain under this same club under Arsene Wenger, and he helped the team to FA cup success and retired at the club in 2016 before heading to Manchester City under Pep as one of his assistants. Fast forward to 2019 and Mikel came back after the club parted ways with Unai Emery who stepped in after Wenger retired from his position as the coach/manager.
The initial buzz of a former club captain coming back helped the team to a surprising FA cup win over Frank Lampards Chelsea at Wembley, but the team has since finished outside the European slots for the first time in over two decades, their worst ever finish to a campaign and the fans are now readjusting to not having European nights of football, because the team simply cannot meet up with the top 6 positions that qualify you for Europe. He has made it clear that the club has to rebuild but for how long will the rebuilding last?
Now, Barcelona, the one-time most dominant football club in the world with mercurial argentine Lionel Messi is now toying with the same model that clearly has no guarantee for success. With the array of top class managers in the game, it will be something of a joke to expect a rookie to come and out-maneuver the more experienced brains. Surprisingly, before the sacking of Ronald Koeman who coincidentally was also a former club player who helped them win the first UCL was sacked, the likes of Antonio Conte, Claudio Raneri were all out of jobs, but Barcelona did not make any attempt to secure their services. Both have since been signed up by Tottenham and Watford respectively.
The choice of Xavi who has been in oil rich Qatar with Al Sadd is another attempt to achieve success without paying the right prize for it. He has not managed any club in Europe but now has the mandate to take over Spain and Laliga from the likes of Diego Simeone of Atlectico Madrid and Carlo Ancelloti of Real Madrid – wishful thinking if you ask me.
Football is not poetry that can be inspired by sentiments and emotions, it requires having a manager with adequate information and technical expertise to out-think the opponent on every part of the game. Going back to recruit former captains and club players has not worked in England and there is no guarantee it will in Spain. As the Xavi reign begins, you can be rest assured that bookmakers will be out on his case from day one, and so will I.