What makes a manager great?

Discussion in 'Football Forum' started by King7Eric, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. Feb 2, 2018
    #1

    King7Eric Full Member

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    With all the recent debates people have been having about Mou and Pep and who spends what and wins what, it got me thinking, What actually constitutes being labelled as a great manager?

    Is it the fact that you win a load of trophies? But the counter argument to that can be that if you have the most resources in a league, and by resources I mean the best players or the most money, then you should be dominating atleast your domestic competitions more often than not. Examples of this would be Bayern and PSG.

    Or is being able to win the trophies whilst having considerably less resources than your rivals, like Ranieri did with Leicester, a bigger achievement than say winning 5 Bundesliga titles in a row with Bayern? Would such a manger who achieves this qualifies as having earned the right to be labelled as great?

    Is longevity an important barometer when it comes to managerial greatness? For instance Jose has this reputation of winning stuff but then leaving within 3 years and then going to another place and repeating the process. Is he greater than someone like SAF who stayed at the same place and won multiple trophies?

    Player development is another issue. How many players did a manger make from good to very good under his tutelage? Is this more important or whether the option of simply buying a world class player if you can afford him more appealing?

    Personally for me a manager can only truly be labelled great when he takes a team that isn't in the top echelons and then turns them into a dynasty that lasts. Sir Alex is probably the only manager whom I would label as truly great in the past 30 years or so, as he took a Utd side that was mid table level at best and turned them into this monster we are today. Sure he had plenty if resources at his disposal but he earned those. He built a foundation that led to development of players like the Class of 92 and the list of promising players he bought and turned them into world beaters is endless.

    Modern managers like Pep or Jose or Conte are all very good managers, but none of them are able to win without massive resources at their disposal, and even then struggle to last long. People go on about modern culture where managers can't last long at a club, well according to me its less with the culture and more with the fact that such managers aren't as great as they are made out to be. Ask yourself this question, between 1993 and 2013, how many reasons did SAF ever give for him to be sacked? The reason he lasted this long was because he was consistently successful. His longevity did not make him great, he lasted so long because he was great. Something which none of the current managers are.

    What are your thoughts on this? What all do you think makes a manager great and whether you agree that SAF was the last of the great managers?
  2. Feb 2, 2018
    #2

    adexkola Arsenal supporter

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    Good thread OP. Even though your definition of great is really myopic if you think SAF was the last great manager.
  3. Feb 2, 2018
    #3

    King7Eric Full Member

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    Well that is the point of the thread. According to my way of judging SAF is the last great manager. I would love to hear your criteria and who you think is a great manager?
  4. Feb 2, 2018
    #4

    AshRK Full Member

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    Consistency and being able to get the best of your squad. Sir Alex was the master of that, hence the greatest for me. Pep and Jose are top top managers. Both have consistently demonstrated that they belong to the elite level.
  5. Feb 2, 2018
    #5

    Eurotrash Full Member

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    An immense, never fading will to win and an excellent judge of character.

    In other words, SAF.
  6. Feb 2, 2018
    #6

    King7Eric Full Member

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    But is just having a will to win enough? I'm pretty sure Jose or Pep or Ancelotti have that in abundance as well. Isn't it more important to be able to apply that will on all sets of characters and not just those who are like you? This is something for instance which Jose himself admits he struggles at, getting the best out of weak minded characters. I think its the ability to be able to get the most out of all sets of characters at your disposal that is more important. Sometimes being too strong willed makes you immune to the struggles of others.
  7. Feb 2, 2018
    #7

    Schneckerl Full Member

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    man managment, evaluation of players, setting up the team with the ability to adjust
  8. Feb 2, 2018
    #8

    youngrell Full Member

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    I think it's consistency and longevity which separates the truly great managers from the very good.

    There were many times throughout SAF's reign that I questioned his actions, from player sales to tiny things like team selections, and there a many games where I think he got it tactically wrong, but he maintained a consistent competitiveness for an incredible amount of time.

    The amazing thing for me, is that during the PL era, United finished no lower than 3rd under SAF and since his retirement we are yet to reach even that high once. Even during years of transition, he still kept us ticking over and relevant, ready to kick on and take over again in the years ahead.

    It's only now he has gone that I can truly appreciate just how incredible he was (and I already worshipped him).
  9. Feb 2, 2018
    #9

    harms Way Staff

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    There shouldn't be one strict definition of greatness. Different managers are great in different ways. It's stupid to discount Guardiola, for example (especially considering where Barca were when he took them) — his body of work and influence on today's football already makes him a great manager; same for Mourinho, although he has different strong qualities — but his success with underdog Porto, incredible spell at Chelsea, treble in Italy and returning Madrid to being a consistent CL contender makes him a great manager; same for Simeone, who had enormous success considering the resources at hand and his direct competitors — and, unlike Ranieri, he is much more consistent.
  10. Feb 2, 2018
    #10

    youngrell Full Member

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    I think it was rare for SAF to recruit a player who was weak minded – being mentally strong seemed one of the biggest traits he looked for in players.
  11. Feb 2, 2018
    #11

    King7Eric Full Member

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    Good points. Especially the one about Simeone. He works with much lesser resources than his rivals and yet has made Atletico into a force to be reckoned with on the European stage. Yet people don't seem to rate him that much. I wonder whether is it because of his style of football, or whether its because he just has one La liga title to show for it.
  12. Feb 2, 2018
    #12

    Frasbul Full Member

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    All a manager can do is to increase the probability to win a game. Nothing more, the rest is up to the players, the referee and a big amount of luck.

    You can set up your team perfectly and train all you want, but sometimes all of it goes down the drain, when your team concedes in 10 seconds or your best player gets injured or sent off. There are so many variables you cannot control.

    That's why I find it really amusing to read the match day thread in a game we are playing good in when every body is praising the manager. To compare it to the post match thread when we haven't won for some reason or another is revealing. Suddenly people forget that it was a great performance and blame it on the manager.

    For the same reason, I don't agree with people critisizing Klopp for having lost most of his recent finals. It doesn't have to be his fault. Yes sometimes he sets up his team in a wrong way, but even if he does everything right, that doesn't mean that his team will win. It increases the probability, that is all.
  13. Feb 2, 2018
    #13

    King7Eric Full Member

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    Eric Cantona wasn't the mentally strongest player. SAF himself and many others have mentioned that you had to treat him extremely carefully to get the best out of him. I'm not for a minute saying he was weak minded but he wasn't a very mentally tough character as evidenced by his struggles before joining Utd despite his obvious talent. He had to be treated differently than SAF would a Keane for example.
  14. Feb 2, 2018
    #14

    JPRouve can't stop thinking about balls - NOT deflategate

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    You are misinterpreting things here, Cantona was mentally strong, the problem is that he was pig headed and opinionated. He wasn't the type of player you give orders to or yell at, otherwise he would tell you to do one.
  15. Feb 2, 2018
    #15

    King7Eric Full Member

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    My point in bring up Cantona's name was that he wasn't like most of our other players at the time from a mentality stand point. It was to go along with my point that a great manager should be able to get the most out of all sets of characters at his disposal, rather than simply those ones that are an extension of his own strong will or a similar mental make up.
  16. Feb 2, 2018
    #16

    11101 Full Member

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    Good manager = win trophies
    Great manager = build a team from scratch to win trophies
    Greatest manager = keep building and rebuilding teams to win trophies
  17. Feb 2, 2018
    #17

    JPRouve can't stop thinking about balls - NOT deflategate

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    You said that he wasn't mentally strong and I corrected you on that point. What SAF did was great in terms of management because he knew that Cantona wouldn't respond well to hairdryer, the same way you wouldn't do it to Ibrahimovic.
  18. Feb 2, 2018
    #18

    Fivehotchillies New Member

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    I think a lot of this is subjective and ends up coming down to personal preference on what matters the most. On a United forum most replies will come heavily influenced by what we've seen from SAF and rightly so seeing as we were blessed with nearly three decades under the front runner for the greatest manager of all time.

    For me alongside the longevity of established managers like SAF I can respect and admire both the underdogs and the serial winners. Jose winning the champions league with Porto and the treble with inter firmly cements him as an all time great manager purely for winning massive accolades against huge odds. Similarly Ranieri dragging Leicester from a predicted last to winning the premier league will be a huge achievement that will be talked about for years, surely qualifying as great.

    By contrast managers like Cruyff revolutionised the way teams played and we can still see the effects of total football today. Whether we like it or not Pep will go down as one of the greatest of all time in regards of volume of trophies won and in terms of maximising the level at which the game is played. Yes, he's had some fantastic players at his disposal but the effectiveness and efficiency of the football he coaches has to be appreciated.

    A great manager for me has to have some element of longevity, creativity or effectiveness but no one element overshadows the rest. You can be great while succeeding in the short term, you can be great while winning trophies in an unaesthetic way and you can be great when the football entertains.
  19. Feb 2, 2018
    #19

    Zlatattack Full Member

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    I think a great manager is one who has a mix of the below;

    - Ability to improve players, make teams better than the sum of their parts.
    - Ability to adapt tactically whether this is during periods of a match, season or career
    - Someone who is willing to learn about new ideas and old ones
    - Someone who can manage people properly. Great managers are people persons. They know when to make people feel special, wanted, or not. Wether it's a mercurial talent or someone who's having personal issues, great managers have the right thing to say at the right time.
    - Ability to spot talent, be it youngsters or established players in the transfer market
    - Ability to build and re-build teams
    - A winning mentality. No truly great manager ever compromises and settles for "the top 4 trophy".
  20. Feb 2, 2018
    #20

    adexkola Arsenal supporter

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    There was a period where I ranked him as the best manager in Europe, bar none.
  21. Feb 2, 2018
    #21

    el3mel Full Member

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    1- Trophies.
    2- Trophies.
    3- Trophies.

    Without trophies the manager's career will always be missing something. Great managers are the ones who win trophies consistently from year to another, otherwise he'll be forgotten.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  22. Feb 2, 2018
    #22

    Lash Full Member

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    To put it simply, a good motivator.

    I think if you look at the recent "success story" type managers, Ranieri, Mourinho, Rainieri, SAF, Simeone, Klopp with Dortmund, Pep to an extent. They're all super passionate about what they do and they get a group of people pumped for the cause.
  23. Feb 2, 2018
    #23

    King7Eric Full Member

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    So if Emery manages PSG for the next 5 years, spending like they do every year, and wins 5 League and 1 CL title, according to you he would go down as a great manager?
  24. Feb 2, 2018
    #24

    Gio 6 times Redcafe Draft Winner

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    Overachieving with the resources at your disposal.
  25. Feb 2, 2018
    #25

    el3mel Full Member

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    If he wins a CL title, definitely, he'll always be remembered for it.

    And TBH the guy has won 3 successive Europe League with Seville as well so it's not like he was nothing before PSG anyway.
  26. Feb 2, 2018
    #26

    Classical Mechanic Full Member

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    Full head of hair, no history of PED use, amazing over achievement (see Aberdeen beating Real Madrid in a European final) and longevity.
  27. Feb 2, 2018
    #27

    Cal? CR7 fan

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    This, aka Sir Alex and Jose are great managers, Baldy is not
  28. Feb 2, 2018
    #28

    King7Eric Full Member

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    My question was in terms of PSG only. I used Emery's name as he is their current manager, but the point applies to any PSG manager. If every summer they spend big bucks like they do, then for me its not a great achievement winning the league. Even the CL, to say the manager is great he would have to win it 2-3 times over a period of 5-6 years.
  29. Feb 2, 2018
    #29

    Raees Legal Guardian of the Football forums

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    Just as with footballers.. there is different tiers of greatness and different types of managers.

    You've got tactical visionaries, great man-managers, one-club icons, versatile managers who could win abroad but unable to build dynasties etc etc. All of these are capable of being called great managers. What makes them great?

    1. Substantial haul of Trophies ... one hit wonders will not be remembered as great
    2. Longevity - not necessarily at one club, but an ability to repeat success over a number of years even if it isn't concurrent success
    3. An ability to put together a cohesive and effective brand of football which (regardless of whether it is overly defensive etc - doesn't matter)
    4. Win the hearts and minds of their players (again even if it only for 2 years max.. the fact they can do it in the first place is a prerequisite)
    5. Ability to spot talent and how to apply that talent - need a fair amount of football IQ to do this, even the so called non-tactical managers like Fergie who gets underrated in this respect
    6. Competitiveness - The moment a manager shows he is comfortable with being second best, the moment he ceases to be a great manager. Wenger was great, not so much now because he doesn't care about winning as much as he used to.
    7. Ruthlessness - Great managers rule through meritocracy and aren't afraid to pull people off the pitch if they ain't doing the business
    8. Flexibility/Makes good changes - Great managers know how to tweak things in order to get the game back in their favour. Doesn't necessarily need to be a plan B way of playing, but they will shift a player here or there or a instruction which suddenly impacts the game and they're back in it.. they do this consistently
    9. Winner of league titles and not just cup competitions

    I think even with the great tactical visionaries, they proved they could win first and foremost and thats what made their tactics so appealing. I think the above is a basic blueprint for greatness.

    To separate the great from the greater.. you'd need a separate list in addition to the above where you hone in on various attributes and which manager ticked off more boxes better than the other. Would be important to note that some managers suit a particular situation better than others... i.e. you wouldn't want Simeone at Barca.. but you wouldn't want Pep at Atletico with a limited budget. So it works both ways. For me the greatest manager would theoretically demonstrate he can work with a variety of clubs, play beautiful football and show he's a tactical visionary, do it across various continents and even build a dynasty somewhere over say 7-8 years. Someone like Herrera at Barca/Inter comes close to ticking a variety of boxes in that respect.. visionary/winner rolled into one with different types of football played under his management both beautiful and downright vicious.
  30. Feb 2, 2018
    #30

    adexkola Arsenal supporter

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    Fair enough.

    A great manager, for me, ticks one or more of the following boxes:

    1. Excellent tactician/reader of the game on the pitch. Able to create systems that maximize the talent on the pitch, aggressively exploit opponents' weaknesses, and/or redefine and innovate new strategies. I would put Mourinho, Guardiola, Simeone, Klopp, Bielsa, Heynekes... in this category.

    2. Organizational titans. Demonstrated record of bringing trophies to the club over an extended period of time while successfully juggling squad overhauls, transfers, on pitch affairs, and so on. SAF, Wenger...

    3. Overachievers. Repeated success at the league, cup or national level with limited resources. Emery (at Sevilla), Simeone.

    I believe Allegri and Conte are great. Not sure what category they would fall in. Conte in the first probably (his record with Juventus and Chelsea indicates as such). Allegri? Not sure.
  31. Feb 2, 2018
    #31

    King7Eric Full Member

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    Good post. And a great shout with Herrera.
  32. Feb 2, 2018
    #32

    el3mel Full Member

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    I didn't think this contradicts my point. In my first post I said winning trophies consistently from year to year to be considered a great manager.
  33. Feb 2, 2018
    #33

    King7Eric Full Member

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    League title is a trophy. A PSG manager or a Bayern manager winning league titles year after year is not enough for them to be labelled as great IMO. Simply because their resources dwarf those of their domestic rivals, for them winning a league should be par for the course. So for me at least, simply winning trophies is not enough to be labelled as great, you have to take into account the circumstances of them as well.
  34. Feb 2, 2018
    #34

    Cait Sith Full Member

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    Everyone who passes my eye test.
  35. Feb 2, 2018
    #35

    el3mel Full Member

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    Valid point and I don't disagree much with that but why taking only France and Germany to base this on ? Most top managers don't manage there anymore apart from Carlo last season. Most top managers in the world are currently in England and Spain where trophies aren't that easy to win.
  36. Feb 2, 2018
    #36

    Boycott Full Member

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    People may scoff but I think Allardyce deserves so much more credit. Guided Bolton to the PL, built a very solid team and led them to Europe. Since then he's constantly taken over clubs in the shit and quickly organised and settled them in mid table.

    Yes there's no glamour and glory but the number of clubs he's done that too, the very low quality and rubbish morale he's had to work on and the effectiveness in the market has worked every time. One of the first to embrace sports science and psycology so he's no dinosaur either.
  37. Feb 2, 2018
    #37

    Skills Snitch

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    Fergies the GOAT.

    But Guardiola and Mourinho are already both top 10 ever type of category.
  38. Feb 2, 2018
    #38

    King.of.Red New Member

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    simple answer for me. manager who has won trophies under any situations/conditions with his team. so, yeah, like Ranieri I always see him as great manager. about SAF, nope, he is not the last because there are others like Jose and Pep who are also great managers.
  39. Feb 2, 2018
    #39

    King7Eric Full Member

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    Well you never mentioned Spain and England before :p. But yeah I agree that if you can win stuff year after year in the top, competitive leagues of the time, you do have to get a shout at being great. But still I feel there's more to being great than just winning trophies. As I said in the OP its also about longevity and developing players and being able to establish that dynasty.
  40. Feb 2, 2018
    #40

    el3mel Full Member

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    All these are great and add more bonus to make a great manager better than another great one, but if he's not winning trophies consistently, at one point people say : "Ok, he's a good manager, he develops youth and plays nice football but he has won nothing significant to keep his name alive in the managers market". He'll always have doubts about him from fans. He needs to be a winner to be continuously wanted by big clubs, then we can talk if this is better than that in developing players, his tactics and longevity for sure.