Top 5: Managers Who Never Played

13 05 2010

Ghostgoal really loves managers who couldn’t cut it professionally. Frankly, almost entirely because we weren’t up to it ourselves. Actually, that’s not the whole reason. There’s also the fact that we once read Steve Claridge’s comment that asking him to go on an FA coaching course was a bit like asking Gordon Ramsey to make beans on toast. Lets celebrate some guys who did the managing thing rather better than Steve Claridge despite never ever being Aldershot’s leading goalscorer….


When quizzed, nay mocked, by the Italian press as to his lack of credentials, the former shoe salesman Arrigo Sacchi famously replied ”a jockey does not need to have been born a horse”. It is reason alone for his inclusion at No.1 but he’s only gone and made it even easier for us by being the last coach to win the European Cup back-to-back ( with AC Milan in 1989 and 1990). What’s more, Jonathan Wilson floats the notion in his wonderful book Inverting The Pyramid that Sacchi’s introduction of a pressing game at the highest level is arguably the last significant tactical development the game has yet seen. Legend.


The 1994 World Cup winning coach has to be one of the most diversely experienced coaches on the planet. A career that began as a fitness coach in his native Brazil has seen club work in Spain, Brazil, Turkey and USA with national jobs for Ghana, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and now South Africa. Its a pretty unusual career path. There’s no doubt about the glittering highlight though and for that reason he is our No.2. The 1994 version of Brazil was not the prettiest but it was one of the most effective and it did give us the Romario-Bebeto partnership and accompanying goal celebration. Indeed, Parreira’s decision to insist that badboy Romario room with the stoical Dunga was maybe as significant as anything tactical he did on the pitch. Nice one Carlos.


Only at No.3? The Special One? He’d be gutted I’m sure. We have to mark him down because rumour has it he wasn’t quite as bad as us at football and he was on the professional books of a few teams in Portugal. Even so, he got his breaks as ”The Translator” so he’s as good as an amateur really. Jose’s dossiers for Sir Bobby clearly left an impression on the old chap and the rest is history. UEFA Cup, Champions League, Premiership and Serie A titles. Jose has shown that a keen mind, a lot of attention to detail and buckets full of confidence are somewhat more significant than the vital experience of being on the receiving end of a Barry Fry teamtalk.


The former Glasgow Rangers manager and director amassed 18 League titles and 10 Scottish cups between 1920 and 1954 and the main stand at Ibrox is now named after him. He was a stonemason by trade. I’ll think of Bill the next time I hear Chris Kamara tell us ”you need to have played the game to understand it”.


So you’re thinking we’re scraping the barrel, right? Yeah ok, but we make no apologies for including a guy who released the single ”I’m Les The White Legs Parry” to the tune of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and may well have got the Tranmere job due to some confusion over a namesake having played for the club in years gone by. Still, if you’re at a club that’s just appointed (and promptly sacked) John Barnes and Jason McAteer then truly the only way is up.