legends turned manager

Club Legends to Managers – Are they Ready?

Many managerial roles in the last decade have been revolving around people who have been club legends at their respective clubs. Currently, the Premier League has 3 of the top 6 Premier Leagues occupying those people..

Ole Soljskaer, Mikel Arteta and Frank Lampard

Ole Gunnar Soljskaer has been the manager of the club he scored dozens of goals and won the treble, Manchester United since December 2018. Frank Lampard took charge in the summer of 2019, where he was an integral part of the club’s title-winning period. Recently, Mikel Arteta got appointed Arsenal’s manager, where he was part of the team that broke the Gunner’s title drought in 2014 by winning the FA Cup and retaining it the following year.

Never should a Manchester United manager get appointed again who doesn’t know the values and principles of the club and doesn’t play the way the club has always wanted

Gary Neville

So what has happened in the past decade? What has happened that in today’s football world, we see one of the greatest football minds in Massimilliano Allegri without a job and Pep Guardiola’s former assistant in Mikel Arteta in charge of the club that the Italian was once rumored to join?’

Examples from the Past Decade

Barcelona became the first team to win the sextuple under Pep Guardiola, a former Barcelona player

For me, it all started back in 2008 when Jose Mourinho was all set to take over from Frank Rijkaard as Barcelona manager. The Catalans made a dramatic u-turn and appointed their current U21 manager Pep Guardiola as manager and Mourinho went to Inter Milan. Pep Guardiola was able to implement the ideas that he had learned in his time as the U21 manager and embrace the culture of the club he once played in. The results were there for everybody to see. Barcelona became the first time to win the sextuple and followed it with a double in 2011.

He changed everything. It was very clear what he wanted and he communicated it well to us. He said ‘If you trust me and do as we say, we will win.

Andres Iniesta

Zinedine Zidane followed the same category. After Rafael Benitez didn’t work out well with Los Blancos. The former Real Madrid and Juventus player took over as Real Madrid manager after being the assistant to 3 former Madrid managers in Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, and Rafael Benitez. Additionally, he was working as the manager of the Real Madrid B team.

Zinedine Zidane became the first manager to win 3 consecutive Champions League titles

His overtaking saw another level of European dominance from the whites as Los Blancos won 3 consecutive Champions League titles and 1 La Liga.

Why the Change?

It is not all rosy when it comes to these kinds of appointments. We saw Kenny Dalglish not doing well at Liverpool. Ryan Giggs worked as an assistant under Louis Van Gaal for 2 years and the managerial job after the Dutchman was handed over to Jose Mourinho and Giggs took over as Wales National Team head coach.

Even though there are multiple factors regarding risks of these appointments, the boards are willing to take on the risk. There is a so-called ‘feel-good factor’ among the fans, players, and staff of the club when a familiar face – one that they can associate with the club – is hired. These club’s legends were at their peak or were present at the height of the club’s powers as a whole. They’ve experienced the highs and lows of the club and been through it all with the fans.

Luis Enrique, a former Barcelona legend won the treble with them as manager in 2015

They’re not only ex-players but also fans, and so they only want what is best for the organization. They are viewed as valuable members of the community who do not seek any selfish gain from acquiring and performing the duties of a manager, other than guiding their respective clubs to where they once were.

The players’ heads are on the line. The fans stuck by Jose Mourinho till the end but at the end wanted him gone. They won’t let go Ole Gunnar Soljskaer. Those players’ futures are truly on the line.

Gary Neville

The impact of these club legends on players is also a major factor taken into account while hiring them. When former coaches are sacked, it is normally due to a string of poor results, which would mean a lack of self-confidence and form among the players.

A change in management can sometimes be the catalyst required to ignite the flame in the players. When a club legend is hired, the players have even more drive to prove themselves, learn, and get noticed.


The appointments of bringing club legends as managers boils down to 2 things. It is based on their managerial work in the past as well as how much they are still attached to the DNA of their club. It is very easy being a Sky Sports Pundit and not keeping up with your words when you get appointed as Valencia and Oldham managers is it? i.e. Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.

Gary Neville failed at Valencia

They must have a CV despite not having a massive one so people can look into things and say that he might not be experienced but he has worked in different setups and is ready to take the next step. Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane worked with their club’s B teams and were successful with the first team. Frank Lampard was a manager of Derby County. He has now taken the next step and the fans are patient with him. The same can be said about Ole Gunnar Soljskaer who worked as a manager of his local league team, Molde FK.

So we definitely know that the boards are willing to take on the risk when it comes to these appointments, but those club legends should also not take those decisions for granted.