10 players whose fortunes changed dramatically after a coaching change
Juan Mata was never the Jose Mourinho kind of playerThe relationship between a manager and a player can be a beautiful thing. It’s a fast life at the top – media, money and massive games. It is in this haze of noise and fury that young men, some of barely college going age, are thrust all too suddenly – regardless of whether they want it or not, whether they are ready for it or not.In such cases, a manager often becomes a father figure. They have the experience, the poise and the know-how – all extremely valuable for players looking for some helpful advice.All an underperformer often needs is the right manager to bring the best out of him. Fans everywhere can produce several recollections of how a career in jeopardy was rescued by a wise head, or how a youngster fulfilled his huge potential thanks to some guiding words.Alas, it is always not so hunky dory. Some players take an instant dislike to the new man in charge. From being the first name on the team sheet, they are deemed surplus to requirements – whether due to a tactical misfit or a clash of egos. Here are ten such players.Updated to reflect the current scenario in March 2017
#1 Jamie Carragher (Rafa Benitez)
By the time Gerard Houllier left the club in 2004, Jamie Carragher was treading water. He was the kind of player who you never quite know what to do with. If necessary, you could sell him and bring in a specialist. On the other hand, you might need someone reliable to plug a gap. Carragher’s versatility proved to be his undoing, really.
Despite making the Champions League places in 2004, Liverpool were out of sorts and low on morale. Houllier went and Rafael Benitez came. The latter was able to boost the general quality of the squad somewhat. One of the ways he did that was to shift Carragher to centre-back.
Stéphane Henchoz’s struggle with injury and Igor Bišcan’s at times very worrying form opened the door for a new centre-half in the summer of 2004, but Benitez put his faith in Carragher – and put him in the centre of defence.
It was a brilliantly perceptive gambit. Carragher’s limited pace and heavy-handedness (footedness?) with the ball was rarely exposed in the centre of defence. Instead, his booming voice and leadership qualities tied together a no-frills defensive sensibility with simple passing to make him a permanent fixture in the side.
The Scouse defender crossed more than 50 appearances for every season Rafa Benitez was at the club. and eventually, he reached second on Liverpool’s all-time appearance chart and first in terms of European games.
Along with earning the respect of his teammates, he also became the terrace favourite. Indeed, the fans dreamed of a team of Carraghers, but one wonders if he would have become one of the club’s greatest ever defenders had Benitez not intervened at just the right time.