When Gareth Southgate took over the job of coaching Middlesbrough FC, the Riverside outfit was having her own legend at the pilot cockpit. June 2006 was a period that marked the ascension of former players mounting the saddles of their old clubs. Even without the required coaching certificates, he got the job; albeit controversially.
Did it work? Not an affirmative “no” anyway, as he kept the club up in the league for a couple of seasons. Three seasons later, after battling against relegations in the previous two, The Championship got them and relegation was the inevitable.
Southgate got the sack, as expected or anticipated. That threw up a barrage of questions about the readiness of football players taking up coaching jobs. Since then, many other good players had come and gone in football managerial posts with mixed outcomes. Diego Maradona, Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Frank Rijkaard are just a few that can be mentioned.
Everything changed at the arrival of Pep Guardiola on the stage. The gentleman turned things around, changed history and carved out a niche for himself. Not just that he, ultimately, changed the views of club owners and directors on their former footballers managing the clubs in which they are regarded as legends. Again the world of football management became revolutionized.
Guardiola’s laurels are “uncountable”. As a player, he won 6 La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Reys, 4 Supercopa de Españas, 1 European Cup, 1 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, 2 UEFA Super Cup and 1 Olympic Football Gold Medal. All these already made him a club legend as a player.
In the position of a manager, he had 3 La Ligas, 2 Copa del Reys, 3 Supercopa de Españas, 2 UEFA Champions’ League Cups, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 2 FIFA World Club Cups all for Barcelona FC. Suffix that he won the league for the Tercera División for Barcelona B. Since then he has added to the laurels winning many other titles at FC Bayern Munich.
The amiable coach’s exploits paved the way for another legend to take over at the same club. Luis Enrique is now enjoying the same wave of successes at FC Barcelona, thereby creating a string of legendary footballers becoming legendary managers. He was also a former player with the club and another legend.
The stage was set for another legend to show whether he can step into the Pep Guardiola. This time around, it is not FC Barcelona. It is Real Madrid FC and the player is Zinedine Zidane. Zidane is a French man who transversed the major football leagues in Europe before ending his career at Real Madrid FC and became a legend there. On 4 January 2016, Real Madrid announced the dismissal of then manager Rafael Benítez and promoted Zidane as the new manager.
Though, previously at Juventus FC, where he won a host of titles, but at Real Madrid FC, he won 1 Li Liga, 2 Supercopa de Españas, 1 UEFA Champions’ League Cup, 1UEFA Super Cup and 1 Intercontinental Cup. Zidane was a member of the “Galacticos”, as the Real Madrid FC star players were tagged then, after the turn of the century. He played in many “El Classicos”; matches between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid FC.
Would the trend boil over and shift to the English Premier League? That is a good question! After all, we have Laurent Blanc already enjoying some strings of successes with PSG FC in French Ligue 1. He, however, did not play with the club, but he was a legendary player, too, in that league.
Recent reports are indicating the return of Arsenal FC legend, Thierry Henry, could spring up some revolutions of former players becoming managers. He is still the clubs highest goal-scorer of all time with 228 goals in 377 games.
News hounds reveal than he is helping out training young players (18-19) at the club’s training ground at London Colney. Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola were both coaches of the youth teams of their former clubs before taking over the first team. Perhaps, this could be pointer to Henry’s process of testing the waters, too, before taking the dive.
Henry’s stay at Arsenal FC yielded 2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 FA Community Shield and 1 UEFA Champions League Runners-up. He also won several personal and individual medals and awards.
Now, may be Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and many others who are also legends of their respective clubs, in their rights should be brazing up for the revolutionary challenge. Anyway, Gray Neville is already trying it out at Valencia FC, could be on his way back to Manchester United FC, or Ryan Giggs, who is already an assistant to Louis Van Gaal, will be legendary player turned legendary manager. Time will tell!