With Steven Gerrard the New Rangers Boss we Remember Some Top Footballers Who Failed to Deliver
With the recent confirmation that Liverpool legend and footballing great Steven Gerrard is set to jump into the very hot seat at Rangers, we here at The MAELSTROM HQ thought we’d take a little gander at some other supremely gifted players who failed to cut the mustard in the managerial merry-go-round. Of course just a stones throw away from Stevie G’s new home is his former manager and largely modest former footballing talent Brendan Rodgers. His career was cut short at the age of 20, before throwing himself headfirst into the role of coach, he like many successful managers that didn’t make the grade as a pro, has shown astute judgement as the boss.
Sir Alex Ferguson was a half decent player/journeyman who drifted between clubs up in Scotland, however his post playing days – well they speak for themselves. In fact a quick glance at the many top managers, the theme of modest playing ability often rings true. Arsène Wenger, Jurgen Klopp and José Mourinho, who’s CV is missing a professional playing career altogether. Of course Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola are worthy exceptions, but on the whole, the path from superstar player to superstar manger is littered with traps. Some have dabbled and may yet return, but for every Ancelotti, Dalglish even Zidane there’s a Seedorf, Gary Neville and Van Basten with a failed star turn. So who are the greatest players to have failed at management in miserable fashion? Take a look at our list of some of the great footballers who failed at management.
Ah Alan Shearer, the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer and wise old sage of the Match of the Day couch, known for his uncompromising analysis and unparalleled understanding of the why’s and what not’s of elite-level football. A true leader of men on the pitch, it seemed inevitable that this legend of the game would take up a role in the dugout. But it was not to be, not until of course his beloved Newcastle came calling. Perilously close to losing their Premier League status and with then manager Joe Kinnear hospitalised, Shearer answered the SOS receiving a hero’s welcome from the toon faithful. He lost his first game 2-0 away to Chelsea and things didn’t get much better, a rousing 3-1 victory over local rivals Middlesbrough saw a brief respite, but relegation was confirmed on the final day of the season, having only garnered 5 points from a possible 24 and a win percentage of 12.5%.
Another talismanic footballer who displayed all the necessary leadership qualities on the pitch, and a sound reading of the game was England great and Arsenal legend Tony Adams. His well documented off the field problems aside, Adams seemed to be perfect managerial material having marshalled a defence that was one of the best this country’s ever witnessed, and the inevitable call came in 2003 from relegation threatened Wycombe Wanderers. He was unable to halt the slide and oversaw their demotion to League 2, after just over a year in charge he resigned having won 12 games out of a possible 53. In a brief stint in charge of Portsmouth following Harry Redknapps departure to Tottenham, he fared little better managing only 4 wins from twenty plus games. After that came an unsuccessful spell at Gabala in the Azerbaijan Premier league, before more recently overseeing Granada’s relegation from La Liga with 7 straight defeats. Win percentage as boss 19.5%.
There’s a bit of a pattern emerging, supremely talented men, captains no less, who wouldn’t take a backwards step wearing slippers on an ice rink, yet for some reason failed to transfer those commanding on pitch qualities into the dressing room. Stuart Pearce is another hugely respected English footballer with the heart of a lion, who has admittedly always craved a career in management, and with his credentials second to none, opportunities inevitably arrived. Things started relatively well when he took caretaker responsibilities at Nottingham Forest. Early victories showed signs of promise and there was a manager of the month award to boot, but it proved short-lived and Pearce was relieved of his duties after relegation.
His longest managerial spell came at Manchester City where he presided over an ageing yet talented group. Things started brightly once again as City nearly secured European football, but from there it was downhill. Two years later he got the boot after winning 34 out of 97 games. A six year spell in charge of the England Under 21s saw a European Championship final defeat to Germany, and there was at times talk of Pearce being lined up as a future England Manager. He even took the reigns as caretaker in a defeat to the Netherlands. another spell at Forest ended badly and it seemed punditry was the future until Dvid Moyes asked him to help out at West Ham where he currently resides. Win Percentage in the hot seat a more reasonable 38.8%.
Possibly the greatest of all greats Diego Maradona for all of his sublime God given talent, has never really, lets be honest, shown any of the necessary emotional tools required to succeed as a manager. At his best when his feet did the talking, Diego still felt he had something to offer the game in retirement and despite little success in his homeland leading Corrientes and Racing Club, he was afforded the prestigious honour of leading the Argentine National Team in 2008. A romantic appointment, there was nothing to lose given the unwavering support he receives from his fellow countrymen.
A win against Scotland on his debut was quickly followed by 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Bolivia in qualifying for 2010 World Cup, Argentina faced the ominous prospect of not making the finals however victory their last two games saw them precede. A verbal assault on the press saw Maradona receive a two month ban by FIFA not for the first time of course, and on his return he oversaw progress to the Quarter Finals before a thumping at the hands of Germany. He was soon removed from the post and tried his luck in the United Arab Emirates to unsurprisingly little avail. Win percentage as the big man a not too shabby 41%.
Midfield maestro, wing wizard, John Barnes’ ability on the pitch was never in any doubt, one of the most exciting attacking talents this country has ever seen, it’s almost inevitable that this footballing genius would transfer to the dugout at some stage. Opportunity knocked when longstanding friends and former colleague Kenny Dalglish took on the role of Director of Football at boyhood club Celtic, and recommended Barnes for the managerial vacancy. It was seen by many as a dream combination, but as Steven Gerrard will likely find out, there’s no hiding place when your first gig is at one of Britain’s biggest clubs.
Big things were expected and a new attacking brand of football was promised. A raft of signings including Eval Berkovic were not enough and after a bust up with Mark Viduka and a humiliating defeat to Inverness (“Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious” anyone) in the Scottish Cup brought things to an end having lost 8 games in 29. A brief spell in charge of Jamaica saw him win the Caribbean Cup, before another disastrous reign this time with Tranmere Rovers where 3 wins in 12 games saw an early end to his managerial career. A win percentage of 56% doesn’t tell the whole story, but is certainly credible.
Considered by all who’ve made his acquaintance as probably the nicest guy in the world, the little magician GianFranco Zola doesn’t scream management material, but with a footballing pedigree such as his, one could never tell for sure. Given the keys to the Boleyn Ground, becoming West Ham United’s first foreign coach was a big ask for a first timer, even more so when you consider his status at bitter rivals Chelsea and despite a very promising start, so it proved to be. An attacking brand of play brought hope to the faithful in his first season and a reasonable 9th place finish was positive.
However the following year things began to unravel and after a season that saw them fighting relegation Zola was sacked, having won just 23 of a possible 80 games. A relatively long spell at Watford (by their standards at least) of over a year saw a Championship play-off final defeat, before being sacked the following campaign after a poor run. Unsuccessful spells at Cagliari and AL-Arabi in Qatar preceded a truly epic fail as boss of Birmingham City where 2 wins in 24 games saw Birmingham slip from play-off hopefuls to relegation threatened in the space of five months. A win percentage of 33% paints a rather sorry picture.
Another who’s punditry par excellence has marked him out as a man who knows a thing or two about how the game should be played and with an outstanding playing career behind him, where Lawro alongside Alan Hansen illustrated with ease the art of defending, it was no surprise that managerial opportunities beckoned upon his retirement. It was with Oxford United that the chance to show his management mettle first came, but it was a brief and unconvincing affair that saw Lawrenson sacked after an argument with the clubs hierarchy regarding the sale of star player Dean Saunders. With only 4 wins in 25 games it was probably a blessing and the club were duly relegated. Undeterred he then took over the managerial vacancy at Peterborough United and remained in charge for over a year, but once again it was to be an unsuccessful spell, with the club only managing 25 wins in 64 games and a life of analysis and commentary beckoned. An overall win percentage of 33% – enough said.
A trophy laden career that included spells at Ajax, Juventus, Milan, Inter and Barcelona did not sufficiently prepare the ever tenacious footballing talent Edgar Davids for a role as the Gaffer. With only one failed attempt on his résumé in charge of Barnet of all the most unlikely places for this storied player to wind up, it was a brief managerial career. Having taken over in late 2012 as player/manager, there was a brief boost that saw Barnet move out of the relegation zone, but it was short lived and they were relegated from the football league in 2013.
The club obviously swayed by his still energetic performances on the pitch stuck by this often controversial figure and they were rewarded in kind as Davids was sent off 3 times in the first 8 games of the Conference Premier season. He insisted on wearing the No.1 shirt and bizarrely decided he would not be travelling with the team to away games that required an overnight stay, there was also rumours of him missing training sessions. Bonkers, brilliant but bonkers! A win percentage of 37% doesn’t look too bad all things considered.
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