Premier League: Do the more unfulfilled players go on to make better managers?

Chelsea's German head coach Thomas Tuchel (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Chelsea's German head coach Thomas Tuchel (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

Why go into management? Why become managers of the game? Of course, there is the money in being part of a team and the fulfilment of being successful. However, there is also the stress, the abuse and the chance of failure.

In the Premier League era, we have seen managers without the most notable playing careers win the title while having also seen great players like Frank de Boer last five games only and not win a match.

There is a theory that the best players do not always make world-class managers. On the other hand, players with more frustrating playing careers are sometimes more motivated and the individual might become a successful manager to make up for it. Multiple Premier League winning managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, José Mourinho and Arsène Wenger had far from world-class playing careers and perhaps that inspired them to be the managers they are.

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Thomas Tuchel had to retire from playing at 24 and probably never thought at during his short playing career he would go on to have the success he is having with Chelsea. Jurgen Klopp played for Mainz in the Bundesliga 2 which is a long way from what he has achieved with Liverpool.

Roy Hodgson’s playing career was spent mostly at non-league clubs in Kent but has gone on to manage six Premier League sides. Similarly, Brendan Rodgers also played very low down the football pyramid which included a spell playing for Isle of Wight side Newport – a world away from his managerial career.

A player without a significant playing career also has to work their way up to be a manager from the bottom and are not just given a job instantly because they are a renowned name. So by the time they get a Premier League role they already have a wealth of experience.

We also cannot forget to mention Pep Guardiola who had a very good playing career but took his managerial career to another level. On the flip side, the likes of De Boer and Michael Laudrup have had managerial stints that have been nowhere near what they achieved as players.

This could be because they have done it as players and felt they knew it all or they had less motivation to succeed as a manager as they have already had so much success as a player. During Laudrup’s time at Swansea, he often looked baffled when a player could not perform a skill that he found easy as a player, which could have affected his ability to connect with his players.

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It could be argued that some managers have matched their playing careers: Roberto Mancini and Antonio Conte had good careers winning titles and have also won the Premier League as managers.

Kenny Dalglish has won the Premier League title as the boss of Blackburn Rovers. His career as a player was also outstanding and included winning titles as player-manager of Liverpool.

Arsenal great Patrick Viera is doing an impressive job this season with Crystal Palace but it is still too early to say if he will be able to match his career as a player. Frank Lampard is in a tough position with Everton at the moment but he is also still very young in managerial terms.

The individual with a frustrated playing career becoming a better manager is often the case and by this logic, we can expect to see players like Jack Wilshere and Ledley King whose careers were plagued by injuries go on to do well as gaffers.

Many players from England’s “Golden Generation” have now gone into management. Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney might have all had fulfilling club careers but there could be that one thing missing that has driven them on to become managers.

Much like Gareth Southgate who is remembered for his missed penalty in Euro 96 has gone on to redeem himself as the England boss and has come so close to winning a major tournament.

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Other players for example; Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen, and Joe Cole have gone into punditry and fair enough if they are happy doing that. But for the likes of Gerrard, Rooney and Lampard, we may well see them one day leading the national side in a chance to fulfil what they did not achieve as England players.