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Why are top players not clicking as successful managers just yet?

The theme of the last few years has been a top player retiring and getting their coaching badges but failing to live up to the hype in their managerial pursuit. There is a few glaring anomalies but this is widely true particularly in players of the English game. But why is that?

One of the potential reasons for this could be that these managers are theown into the deep end too early. One of the best examples of this is former Manchester United right back and current Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville. Neville joined Spanish top flight side Valencia with the team having sacked him within his first season in charge after disappointing results, including a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona.

However, some managers start off at the level suited for them but move up in the rankings too quickly. Examples for this include Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. Lampard had a bright start to his managerial career, especially when he took over at Derby County. He assembled a young team with future Premier League starters, such as Mason Mount and Harry Wilson, on short term loan deals which worked wonders for him as it gave him a play-off final. Despite defeat, it was an impressive start.

However, from here, Lampard was thrown straight into the Chelsea job and expectations were huge for him given his reputation at the club. Unfortunately for him, it did not live up to the highs people expected, despite an FA Cup final and top 6 finish.

Similarly, Steven Gerrard joined Rangers in 2018 and managed to topple the monopoly that was Celtic in the Scottish league and get Rangers back into the Champions League. He made a change in 2021, signing with Aston Villa. His first season saw the club finish 14th, ten points clear of the relegation zone. He only stayed until October 2022 before being fired, less than a year after signing. It is arguable that the Premier League was too early of a sight for Gerrard and may have needed to look at a lower tier.

However, some managers seemingly fit into top class management immediately, whether it is because of their coaching style being fully developed or through them having the right group of players to lead to success. Examples of these include Zinedine Zidane and Xabi Alonso. Zidane won the Champions League with Real Madrid as a coach in three straight seasons whilst also having arguably one of the most complete squads in the modern era.

Xabi Alonso on the other hand is someone who has slowly worked his way into management. He coached the youth team of Real Madrid before coaching the B team of Real Sociedad from 2019-2022. After leaving there, he was hired by Bundesliga team Bayer Leverkusen. In his time there so far, he not only rescued them from relegation to getting European nights, but just completed an invincible season, only losing in the Europa League final, winning the league by 17 points. They became the first team in over a decade to dislodge Bayern Munich as league champions.

Players who are signed to big expectations solely because of their reputation as a player tend to see the less success as a result of not being qualified enough as a head coach. Hopefully, teams soon start to see this as the case as some of these teams have had to rebuild themselves from the ground up as a result of these risky hires.

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