October 24, 2012

Football players make terrible managers

As you are all aware I am a passionate football fan. Paul mentioned something very profound in class on Monday which got me thinking. He said that a majority of successful ex-footballers have gone on to become very unsuccessful football managers. On getting home on Monday evening, I began to meditate and think about unsuccessful managers who were excellent footballers in their time. The list is endless but I will like to share a few:

Diego Maradona:

Maradona is arguably the greatest footballer of all time. He his viewed as a god in his native Argentina because of his exploits on the pitch. As a manager, he was unsuccessful, infact awful. He has been sacked by every single team he has managed since retiring as a footballer.

Ruud Gullit:

Ruud Gullit is a man lauded for his exceptional footballing talent, sensational haircuts and for inventing the phrase 'sexy football'. Ruud Gullit, as a player, had everything. He had skills, he had the speed and he was tough. He was one of the most versatile players to ever play the game. His glorious years were spent with AC Milan in the late 80's. He also captained Holland to her first major championship in 1988. But the former Chelsea, Milan and Sampdoria player has not had quite so much success in management.

John Barnes:

Barnes' successful playing career with Watford, Liverpool and England didn't continue in to his managerial career. In 1999 Barnes was appointed head coach at Celtic former Liverpool manager and legend Kenny Dalglish, who was director of football at the Scottish club. Barnes' leadership was questioned after a shocking Scottish Cup defeat at the hands of Inverness Caledonian Thistle, which led to the famous front page headline 'Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious' and to Barnes being fired.

Paul Gasgoine:

Gaza as he his popularly called is arguably the most talented player to put on an England shirt, Paul Gascoigne's playing career was turbulent and his managerial career followed suit. After a short spell as a player-coach at Chinese club Gansu Tianma, Gascoigne signed for Boston United as player-manager in 2004, lasting 11 games before leaving; reportedly because the club refused to let him appear on the television show 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here'. Short-stints at Algarve United and Kettering Town followed, before the board at Kettering dismissed him for drinking on the job after just 39 days.

I can add a minimum of 10 more players to the list. If it was a data set on an oscillilating graph, I will be correct to say that successful players do not make successful managers. Infact, the reverse have turned out to be more productive. The reverse in this context means that mediocre players have gone on to become very successful football managers. For example, Arsene Wenger, Alex Ferguson, Sir Matt Busby etc. all these guys had mediocre footballing careers and they turned out to be excellent managers. The million dollar question is, what lesson can we take away from this blog?

Deming in his System of Profound Knowledge talks about having an understanding of variation. This statement is profound because Deming understood that variation is a phenomenon common to all human activities. No two things are exactly the same, Deming went to great lengths to illustrate this in his red bead experiment in which he demonstrated that inspite of best efforts by workers or supervisors, variation was still present in the number of undesirable red beads scooped up by the worker. Just because footballers were successful does not mean that they will make good managers. There are two sides to a coin, so to you future CEOs, please look at things holistically before you make decisions.


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