The elite status of footballers guarantees them the opulence to indulge in things we can only dream of. Fast cars, beautiful women and gargantuan estates, there nothing more one could ask for in this life. When they are on the wrong side of 30, footballers hit a limbo – continue with football as a profession or diverge into other industries? Many become household names after taking up club management while a lot more fail, rather miserably. Here is a look at few players who shouldn’t have tested the waters of club management.
Honorable mentions: Ciro Ferrara, Paul Ince, John Barnes, Alan Shearer and Hristo Stoickov
Consolation – Bryan Robson
Not only was Bryan Robson the longest serving captain in Manchester United’s history, he also wore the celebrated number 7 shirt. He began his career at a less renowned West Bromwich Albion before moving to the Red Devils for a then British record fee of 1.5 million pounds. At United, he successfully led the club to two league titles, three FA Cups and a solitary League Cup. Before his retirement as a player-coach at Middlesborough, he earned 90 caps as an English player. Often documented for his fierce determination, pace and leadership, the former Red Devil was described by the late Sir Bobby Robson as one of the best players he has worked with.
Robson’s stint as a manager wasn’t as glorified as his playing days. His spell at ‘Boro saw him attract stars such as Juninho, Emerson, Ravenelli and Branco, where they reached the finals of both domestic Cups. However, his mismanagement cost the club dearly as they were relegated in the ‘96-‘97 season. In spite of the club’s revival and eventual promotion to the domestic league, Robson’s days were numbered as he fell out with the players and the board. After leaving Boro’, Bryan Robson managed Bradford, West Brom and Sheffield. Presently, he is the manager of the Thailand National Team.
5. Marco Van Basten
Perhaps one of the greatest European players of all time, Van Basten won laurels at both domestic and European levels with Ajax and AC Milan. His time with de Godenzonen saw him bag the European Golden Boot in 1986 while at Milan, he won the Capocannoniere twice (Serie A’s top scorer) and three European Cups. His constant battles with injury saw him retire at the age of 27, having won European Footballer of the year a record three times and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992. Speaking about his retirement at a press conference, Van Basten promised to never turn to management. Had he stuck to his words, Van Basten’s imprint in Dutch folklore would have been quite different.
His first real shot at a managerial role came with the Dutch National Team. A man of strong principles, he dropped regular starters (who he believed were the ‘aged’) such as Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf and Edgar Davids. Under his guidance, the Dutch confidently qualified for the 2006 World Cup, having gone unbeaten in their qualifiers. Dubbed as one of the pre-tournament favorites, their World Cup campaign ended on a different note for Van Basten and his men. In a dramatic and controversial 1-0 loss to Portugal, the Netherlands were knocked out of the tournament.
Many were calling out for Van Basten’s axe as he made some questionable decisions in the line-up – such as favoring the young Dirk Kuyt over the renowned Ruud Van Nistelrooy. KNVB stuck with Van Basten till Euro 2008, where once again the Dutch eased past the group stages to fall against an inexperienced Russian side. After his contract with the Dutch National Team expired, Van Basten went back to managing his childhood club Ajax. His fortunes as a manager did not change as he left Ajax after single season in charge, in spite of spending millions the club failed to win the league and did not qualify for the Champions League.