Recently, I read an interview with Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino previewing the EFL Cup match against Gillingham on Spurs’ website. One particular question and answer stood out to me.
With both yourself and Justin Edinburgh having made the transition from player to manager, is there anyone in your current squad who has shown an interest in becoming a manager in future?
Mauricio: “Yes, it’s true that some players, if they want, can be a manager but I don’t want to give any names because maybe they will challenge with me in the future! You can feel that there are some players who can be a manager one day if they want.”
Poche’s got his tongue firmly in his cheek here, but it got me thinking. The vast majority of managers had professional careers somewhere, even if they weren’t outstanding ones. In fact, it’s difficult to find a notable manager who wasn’t a player. Andre Villas-Boas was one of these rare beasts, as was Avram Grant, and former Italy manager Arrigo Sacchi (who once quipped “I never realized that in order to become a jockey you have to have been a horse first”).
The Secret Footballer once wrote an interesting post about Harry Redknapp and what makes a good manager. For him, it came down to gaining (and keeping) the trust of the players, having a solid philosophy of the game, and honesty, even if the answer given is difficult to hear. The best team leaders will likely make the best managers.
So let’s take a look at some options from the current squad who might replace Pochettino. You know, when he retires after leading Spurs to five consecutive Champions League titles, of course.
This is almost a gimme. Dier has quickly turned into a player whom Spurs fans not only view as a future Tottenham captain, but maybe a future England captain as well. While incredibly young, he already has the respect of his Spurs teammates, and his youth growing up playing football in Portugal would lend him an international footballing experience that would serve him well in the managerial ranks. And of course, he’d also bring along his bestie Dele Alli as his #2. He’d be the Steffen Freund to Dier’s AVB.
Defenders seem to make the best managers for some reason. Maybe that’s because a manager with a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding of defense makes for a more well-rounded leader. Rose has turned into a pretty smart guy who knows football, which speaks well to his future managerial acumen. Then there’s also how Pochettino put his arm around Rose from his first days on the job and turned him from a derpy, positionally suspect fullback into England’s starting left back. If there’s a player on Spurs’ team who can turn into a smart, Bielsa-school Pochettino protogé (Pochogé?), it’s probably Danny Rose.
We haven’t seen much of Harry Winks in Tottenham’s team yet, but the reports coming out of the club is that he’s incredibly smart with a really good work rate, and loyal. All traits that would serve him well in management. Mauricio Pochettino apparently loves him, but not so much as to not destroy him in training with a nutmeg. That would seem to be the analog of the story Poche told recently about Marcelo Bielsa making him cry. Winksy will be tactically astute, and with dreamboat good looks on the sidelines. He’s perfect.
Everything we know about Janssen’s story – in love with football, dropped down to Eredivisie 2 and worked his ass off to get back, studies football compulsively, has an unwavering belief in his own abilities – tells me that he’d make a fantastic and driven manager someday. He’s a football lifer, and possibly the player on Tottenham’s side with the most gifted footballing brain. He’s surely not thinking about it now, but I think he’d make a great manager.
Truthfully? Based on what I know about Harry Kane there isn’t much that would lead me to believe that as a manager he’d be anything except Harry Redknapp Mk. II. Redknapp was great – a motivational genius who got the best out of his teams by telling them to FRAAB. Future Tottenham Manager Harry Kane would definitely get his teams buzzing. They’d be so buzzing. They’d be the most buzzingly buzzing team in the league, buzzing their way right to the title every season. Clear eyes, open mouths, can’t lose.
If you’re looking for a true blood-and-thunder, terrifyingly old-school manager, why not promote the... thing... who’s been at the club the longest? Chirpy doesn’t need long, drawn-out motivational speeches. He doesn’t need bombastic hair-dryer screaming fits when things aren’t going well. He won’t put his arm around a player’s shoulder when things aren’t going well. He’ll just look at you with those eyes, the depths of which promise both bottomless Lovecraftian horror and the eventual heat death of the universe. You WILL play for Chirpy. Or you will not be.
Which Spurs player currently in the side do you think would make the best manager? Put your thoughts in the comments below.