Whilst the likes of Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer and Josep Guardiola have all made the transition from world class footballer to world class coach, there have been some superstars who have failed to make the grade in the managerial hotseat. We look at the top five footballers who failed to transfer stardom from the pitch to the dugout.
- Diego Maradona
One of the greatest players to ever play the game had to wait 11 years after retirement to make his debut in management.
After over a decade of battling drugs, alcohol and weight problems, Maradona was appointed the Argentina head coach in 2008.
At times it was debatable whether Maradona had prepared a defence as the wacky manager went for the all out attack approach which produced a variety of mixed results during qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. After being thumped 6-1 away to Bolivia in April 2009 many questioned whether they would even make it to the finals in South Africa.
After a promising start to the tournament, Maradona’s tactical shortcomings where exposed as Argentina’s defence was torn apart by a rampant German side in a 4-0 defeat. Days later Maradona had left his post after his request for a contract extension was rejected by the Argentinean FA.
Many had thought that this would be Maradona’s final foray into management, but the former World Cup winner was surprisingly appointed head coach at UAE side Al Wasl in May 2011. Whether the Argentine great had just seen the money on offer or truly believed that he could resurrect his managerial career we’ll never know. And after a disappointing first season his 3.5 million euros a year contract was terminated in July.
- Bryan Robson
An inspirational leader during his playing days Robson never managed to capture the same aura during his managerial career.
His track record has been met more by failure than success, having suffered relegation with Middlesbrough, Bradford and West Brom, he then had a disastrous nine months in charge of Sheffield United during his last spell in English football.
He went on to manage the Thai national side for just less than two years before resigning due to health problems.
He did manage minor successes during his career having won promotion to the Premier League with Middlesbrough on two separate occasions and notably saved West Brom from relegation during the 2004-05 season, when the club found themselves bottom of the table at Christmas.
However Robson has ultimately been a manager, who has relied too heavily on his chequebook and not enough on the leadership skills that earned him so much success as a player. Prime example may have been when Middlesbrough were docked three points after failing to turn up to a league match against Blackburn in February 1997. If they had those three points at the end of the season they would have stayed up.
- Lothar Matthaus
Only a European Cup winners’ medal is missing from the medal haul Lothar Matthaus accumulated during his playing career, and the former World Footballer of the Year looks unlikely to add to that during his coaching career.
Matthaus’ time in management has hardly been steady, having had seven jobs in the last 11 years. The German icon’s line of work has seen him manage in Austria, Serbia, Hungary, Brazil, Israel and Bulgaria, staying little more than two years at the most in each job, often leaving his post in acrimonious circumstances. Whilst at Brazilian side Atletico Paranaense Matthaus’ told the board that he had to return to Europe for three to four days. He resigned two weeks later without returning to Brazil to pick up his belongings.
However Matthaus’ managerial career has not been without success. During his brief spell, Matthaus alongside Director of Football Giovanni Trappatoni delivered the Austria Bundesliga title with Red Bull Salzburg back in 2007, before swiftly moving on.
He has often expressed his frustration at not being offered a managerial role in his native Germany, but his partisan attitude towards Bayern Munich is often viewed as what is stopping him finding a job anywhere other than the Allianz Arena.
- Bobby Charlton
One of the greatest players of his all time, Charlton still holds the record for the most goals scored in an England shirt, but this footballing great never managed to transcend his genius into the world of management.
After leaving Manchester United in 1973, Charlton took over at Preston North End. Yet the move wasn’t a successful one as relegation from the old second division followed in his first season in charge.
Charlton left Preston in 1975 after an argument over the sale of John Bird to Newcastle United. Despite rumours linking him to the Stockport County job, Charlton never took up another full time managerial post.
He later had a brief stint as caretaker manager of Wigan Athletic yet failed to make any lasting impact and he moved on to become a director of Manchester United in 1984.
Charlton’s managerial career was too short to conclusively prove that he was a bad manager. However maybe seeing brother Jack lead Middlesbrough to promotion from the second division in the same season he relegated Preston, may have brought Bobby to realise that the managerial game wasn’t for him.
- Ruud Gullit
When the Dutch maestro finished his illustrious playing career with a FA Cup winners medal during his time as Chelsea player manager you could be forgiven for thinking that Gullit was about to embark on an equally brilliant managerial career.
However, after he was sacked after falling out with then Chelsea chairman Ken Bates in 1998, Gullit’s managerial career took a turn for the worse.
Despite reaching the FA Cup final in his first season as Newcastle manager, Guillit only managed five games of the 1999-2000 campaign before he handed in his notice after a poor start.
He returned to management some five years later with Feyenoord but again only managed one season.
After brief spells with LA Galaxy and Terek Grozny, Guillit returned to a cushier life as a TV pundit.
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