Football Managers: Nine days wonder or a lasting legacy?
Sometimes, football is less about the players and more about the boss in the dugout. He is the one who selects, strategizes, inspires, motivates and directs an army, which, in return, make him and the fans proud. The manager’s genius has become synonymous with his team’s strength. It’s not only about the magicians on the field but the maestros off field who use tactics, to have the edge before the kickoff by playing mind games, targeting specific objectives and making the enemy complacent with their over-estimation. But his role is not limited to the pitch only. He is the one who keeps the dressing room united among a host of super egos. Makes the unhappy players happy (Cristiano Ronaldo), helps in focusing on the game for the one who is having a troublesome private life and the apparent media buzz around it (Giggs, Rooney, John Terry, etc.).
Talking about managers, there are two sects of them. First, the short-termers and secondly the long-termers. Now, it’s difficult to choose which one is better because both have nearly the same impact. So, what sets the two sects apart? The answer is time and the impact they have on the team. The impact they have in the short spell is probably the only parameter to judge them. Their appointment is dependent on the top brass and whether they want success served on a hot plate, like Roman Abramovic, or like the Glazers family who are not as desperate but equally successful even while having a single person in the helm for 26 years now. Now, there can be a third type of ownership – the one who can do without success or the one that symbolizes it – no silverware for 8 long years.
Choosing which one is better is difficult. Contrasting the short-termers and long-termers and their success can be one very good scheme to dig out the truth. The short-termers like Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas, Michael Laudrup, Harry Redknapp, Steve Clark, Roberto Di Matteo, Brendan Rodgers not only steady the ship but also land something for the fans to be proud of in the process. These short-termers go to the club and make substantial transactions for landing top players who can provide instant results and lead the team from the front. A few managers like Jose Mourinho and Michael Laudrup show promise and make the team better, which in turn helps them win trophies, rather than blindly chasing success which Di Matteo ended up in doing. He bought a host of players including Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin Cesar Azpilcueta and messed things up, failing to rotate them and gel the team together. The irony of these short-termers is that one bad day in the office can show you the exit doors of the club. ‘The Special One’ sets an example as to how be a short-termer can still be the best in the business.
The long-termers are the ones of the yesteryears as is evident form the examples of Sir Alex and Arsene Wenger. They are the types who are going to stay in the club for years. That helps them build legacies and bring the best out of each player rather than buying talented players. The long-termers develop a bond with the club and their fans. But their projects can be time taking and sometimes frustrating, like the one Arsene Wenger seems to be undertaking at the Emirates. He always needed time to make Arsenal the best but was betrayed by his own impatient players like Cesc Febregas, Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri and many others.
The basic difference between these types of managers is that the short term project is very temporal and doesn’t have a lasting effect on the club. Players come and go in this type of management. The long-termers have become a brand in itself and never stop delivering a consistent performance compared to the short-termers who come and go like visitors. They should remember the proverb “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
But then, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’s for you to decide who is superior.