It’s all in a name.
If you have the right surname, and the right connections in high places, you can get on pretty swimmingly in this world, and that is certainly the case in the ever-nepotistic game of football.
Phil Neville, having achieved the square root of nothing in his managerial career thus far, has swapped Bisham Abbey for Miami as he leaves behind his role as England women’s head coach to take up the reins at Inter Miami.
The missing link? The Florida outfit’s owner is none other than David Beckham, who of course was Neville’s chum at Manchester United and England.
— Fizzer18 (@Fizzer181) January 18, 2021
The 43-year-old has held coaching positions with England’s youth sides, has took the helm at Salford City – the club he is co-owner of – on occasion and was part of his brother Gary’s disastrous tenure at Valencia….the missing link there being Peter Lim, the billionaire who owns a considerable stake in both Salford and the Valencians.
Does that small fishy? It should do.
England ladies reached the semi-finals of the World Cup under Neville’s guidance, but he has latterly presided over a run of seven defeats in eleven games – the worst run for the Lionesses since 2003.
So what is so appealing about him as a coach? Well, having friends in high places counts….you just hope his friendship with Beckham isn’t tarnished in the wake of what is likely to be a humdrum spell in charge of Inter Miami.
Another Manchester United legend, Wayne Rooney, has also waltzed his way into a managerial role at Derby County, and admittedly he was on the payroll as a player already but what is it about the former England frontman that the Rams, heavily in debt and battling relegation from the Championship, think will inspire an immediate upturn?
Employing former stars of the game as manager in their first major role has consistently proven to be a disaster, as these examples attest.
|Derby County||Manager||May 2018||July 2019|
Announced to much fanfare, Frank Lampard’s sole season in charge of Derby County in 2018/19 yielded a sixth place finish….the same as the club had achieved the prior campaign under Gary Rowett.
To be fair to Frank, he did so without the previous season’s top goalscorer Matej Vydra, but even so he spent £12.5 million and simply replicated the efforts of Rowett, who achieved a top-six finish despite a net transfer spend of +£8 million.
In the rich vein of clubs employing former legendary players as manager, Chelsea chief Roman Abramovich must have seen something that nobody else did when employing Lampard – perhaps the fact that the Blues were under a transfer ban, meaning that attracting a high-profile head coach was nigh-on impossible, was a factor.
Only Guus Hiddink has a worst win ratio as Chelsea manager than Frank Lampard since Andre-Vilas Boas – that’s seven bosses, and for context Maurizio Sarri was sacked with a win rate of 62%….Lampard is currently at 52% having spent £220 million on new players in the summer.
How long does being a club legend buy you?
|Manchester City||Assistant Manager||July 2016||December 2019|
Unai Emery is considered something of a new low by Arsenal fans for his time at the club, in which the Gunners won 55.13% of their games and averaged nearly two goals scored per game.
Now in charge is the club’s former captain Mikel Arteta in his first managerial role. You probably know how this story is going to end, with the Spaniard overseeing a win ratio of 54.55% and an average of 1.33 goals scored per game.
Arsenal, down in eleventh place in the Premier League, are a nothing side – 17 years after their ‘Invincibles’ season, but Arteta is likely to benefit from the short-sighted loyalty that premium players tend to get in their first job as a manager.
|Valencia||Manager||December 2015||March 2016|
|England||Assistant Manager||May 2012||June 2016|
Making friends with Peter Lim has proven to be one of the smartest decisions that Gary Neville has made.
The billionaire from Singapore has pumped significant cash into Salford City, the club Neville is a co-owner of, and he also owns Valencia – appointing the former Manchester United right back as the most unlikely of head coaches despite having no previous managerial experience.
It was a move that went really well, no doubt? Not exactly. Appointed on December 2, 2015, Neville was sacked on March 30, 2016 after a disastrous spell in which he lost more games than he won, failed to keep a single clean sheet and suffered the indignity of a 0-7 defeat to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.
Neville hasn’t had a job as manager since….funny that.
|Newcastle United||Manager||April 2009||May 2009|
To be fair to Newcastle United, you can sort of see why they appointed Alan Shearer in the dying embers of the 2008/09 season.
They had just eight games to retain their Premier League status, and appointing the club legend was designed to bring together the warring factions on the terraces at St James’ Park.
The problem was that Shearer had no previous coaching experience, and his lack of tactical nous was clearly exposed as the Magpies claimed just five points from a possible 24 to drop through the dreaded trapdoor to the second tier.
Shearer was swiftly shown the exit door, with Chris Hughton – the man he had replaced – then being handed the job again.
|Gimnasia de la Plata||Manager||September 2019||November 2020|
|Dorados||Manager||September 2018||June 2019|
|Fujairah||Manager||April 2017||April 2018|
|Deportivo Riestra||Assistant Manager||August 2013||April 2017|
|Al Wasl||Manager||May 2011||July 2012|
|Argentina||Manager||October 2008||July 2010|
|Racing Club||Coach||May 1995||November 1995|
|Deportivo Mandiyu||Coach||January 1994||June 1994|
Proof that quality players don’t automatically make impactful managers comes in no more obvious shape than the sadly departed Diego Maradona.
In club management, he had five different jobs as manager totalling a combined 116 games at the helm – he was sacked from all of them bar the last, at Gimnasia, who he was still head coach of at the time of his death.
Ironically, his best work as a manager came with Argentina, who he guided to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2010. It wasn’t enough for Maradona to be offered a new contract, however, and he joined the litany of outstanding players turned very ordinary managers.