The growing trend of big European football clubs appointing former players does make financially and cultural setup of modern football.
After players, managers are the biggest entity in football. Players often steal the limelight for exploits on the pitch, but managers are the ones that create a much better environment or condition on and off the pitch to help them to deliver good individual and collective performances.
Managers are elite tacticians that have various other qualities such as man-management, good motivators, and mental strength to stand criticism. The latest trend followed in European clubs has been appointing former players as managers. It has happened across from small budget to elite clubs such as Manchester United, Juventus, and Chelsea. Zinedine Zidane started this trend almost four years ago when Real Madrid decided to appoint him as permanent manager. Appointed the Frenchman was a big gamble for the biggest club in the world, but it is eventually turning out to be an overwhelming success.
Salary not as high as high profile managers
The clubs do get a financial edge while appointing a former player as a manager. First of all, the compensation to get them in the job is not exactly huge. Moreover, salaries are not as extravagant as superstar managers such as Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, and Jurgen Klopp. If things do go wrong, then a severance package is also feasible.
Frank Lampard currently earns £8 million per year at Chelsea, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer earns £7.8 million at Manchester United. Mikel Arteta when appointed by Arsenal in 2019 agreed to wages in the region of £5 million. To put things into context, the likes Guardiola, Klopp and Mourinho earn more than £15 million. Meanwhile, Andreas Pirlo at Juventus earns €1.8 million per annum. (Stats courtesy: Sportekz)
Players have more respect for club legends
In terms of performances, player managers have done fairly well. Lampard and Solskjaer were able to help the team to qualify for the Champions League in their first full campaigns, while Arteta helped the team to win the FA Cup. Most importantly, the response from the dressing room during the adversity gives these managers an edge over others.
Often, players insist that managers that have been players in not distant past can understand them much better. Moreover, the dynamics of the relationship between manager and players have changed now. Players do have more power in the current era due to the amount of money clubs invest in them. In such a situation, managers need to maintain an emotional and tactical balance to get the team out of a crisis. Players often say that this new generation of managers were players previously, so they are able to understand them than someone who has traditionally been just a coach. They tend to have more respect for them and the power dynamics in the dressing room are also kept in check.
Former players more flexible with the ethos of clubs
Finally, players are also in tune with the culture of these big clubs. Solskjaer has got United approaching games like they used to do during the club’s successful era, while Lampard has finally managed to integrate players from the academy that previous managers have not done in the past. Moreover, these managers often get more time from fans due to their past and they are in line with the ethos of the club.
As much as players enjoy under this generation of managers, owners are also able to sell a long-term project to fans. They benefit financially, but most importantly stability is brought at the club. Zidane has been the only former player turned into manager that has won a lot of silverware at a big club. To stop him from being the anomaly the next step for these managers is to bring silverware. Once that happens, then this type of managers will end up becoming an overwhelming success since they tick a lot of boxes.