It’s all but official — Mauricio Pochettino is back with a new job. I’m happy for him, not least because he’s not at a Premier League rival — he’s signing with Paris St. Germain — but because PSG is one of the clubs he used to play for during his playing days as a central defender.
It got us thinking in the Carty Free writer’s Slack — who are some of the other managers currently at clubs where they used to play? We came up with a list, and ranked them according to managerial ability at their current clubs, but we decided to omit Pochettino from these rankings, as the jury is obviously still out on his time at PSG. The payoff is worth it. It may rustle some jimmies (not on this board). And hey, maybe it’ll spark discussion about that rather than Tottenham Hotspur’s ridiculous 1-1 draw against Wolves that exposed the tactical frailty of ultra-defensive Mourinhoball.
Here are your player ratings to the theme of former players now managing their old clubs.
5 stars: Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid
Simeone only played three years at Atletico, but he’s still considered one of the club legends, winning the La Liga and Copa del Rey double in 1995-96. Now he’s back and has cemented his legacy as a manager, winning the Europa League twice and making two Champions League finals.
Tanguy Ndombele (Community — 4.5): Without hyperbole, that was almost certainly Tanguy’s best match in a Tottenham shirt. He was absolutely dominant with the ball at his feet and took his goal extremely well. One can only wonder what might have happened had he NOT been substituted for Moussa Sissoko in the second half.
4.5 stars: Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid
Zizou’s playing career is legendary. His managerial career... slightly less so, but you can’t argue too much with two league titles and three Champions League titles, can you? The only slight blemish on his record is that in both of his stints at Madrid his players ended up getting tired of him.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.5): If not for Hugo, we probably lose this match. He had five saves on the day and commanded his area well.
4 stars: Hansi Flick, Bayern Munich
I never saw Flick play football — his stint at Bayern came in the mid-1980s. But he had 104 caps and four Bundesliga titles to his name as a player and won the Bundesliga in his first year in charge of the club last season. His Bayern teams have been fun to watch even if he’s not dominating the league the way Bayern teams have in years past.
Ben Davies (Community — 3.5): Was pleasantly surprised again with Davies’ solid defensive performance against Wolves. He had a solid match, and if he hadn’t lost Saiss for Wolves’ goal he’d probably be higher up this list (it was also a good run from Saiss). Covered Reguilon nicely as well.
3 stars: Scott Parker
I questioned Scotty Parker’s managerial ability after he couldn’t keep Fulham in the Premier League a couple seasons ago, but he did well to get Fulham promoted the next season, and that’s tough. While the Cottagers haven’t exactly set the league on fire, they look good enough at this point to (maybe? hopefully?) stay up. Parker looks like a competent and long-term manager for a mid-table Premier League club and hey, that’s not bad.
Eric Dier (Community — 3.0): Should that have been a penalty? IDK, it sure looked soft to me and thankfully it wasn’t given. Otherwise, Dier was solid enough defensively with no major screw-ups.
Davinson Sanchez (Community — 3.0): Say what you want about this match but the defense was pretty good for most of it, and Davinson was a pretty important reason why. He was maybe not outstanding, but he was absolutely competent for the second straight match. That’s good because we need him.
Sergio Reguilon (Community — 3.0): It wasn’t his usual role, and Reggie still shows a bit of that maddening looseness with the ball going forward, but he did well with a couple of chances early. Looked absolutely exhausted when he was subbed off.
Pierre Hojbjerg (Community — 3.5): I’ve been singing Pierre’s praises for so long this season that it feels weird when he has just an average match. Noticed a few times when he either got spun or misplayed an easy pass, and it’s not like him. A disappointing match only by comparison to his high standard this season.
2.5 stars: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United
Nobody expected Sir Alex Ferguson’s Baby-Faced Assassin to be anything but an interim manager after Mourinho... uh, Mourinho’d himself out of United, so imagine everyone’s surprise when he bootstrapped himself into the permanent position. Now United’s kinda stuck with him. He’s doing just well enough to keep the heat away from his seat: not poorly enough to get sacked and not good enough that I feel confident that United’s ever going to have a dominant team, even if they have enough talent and money to hang in and around top four. Long may that continue.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 2.5): Man, this is tough. Mourinho screwed up the tactics and ended up having to play Son as a defensive winger rather than his best position at the top with Kane. Sonny’s game suffered, and it wasn’t helped by the number of miles on his legs already. Hard to know whether to blame Mou or Son more for this match, but lord he wasn’t great.
Harry Kane (Community — 2.5): Absolutely marginal in this match, and full credit to Wolves for man-marking him out of the match entirely.
Moussa Sissoko (Community — 2.5): Another perhaps overly harsh rating for Sissoko who did exactly what Sissoko tends to do. It just wasn’t at all what we needed at the time he came in.
Steven Bergwijn (Community — 2.5): I thought his sub for Reguilon was the correct decision at the time, but the tactics of the second half basically set him up to fail. Didn’t get much time on the ball and didn’t do much with the few opportunities he was presented. It’s not entirely his fault.
Matt Doherty (Community — 2.5): Doherty was basically playing as a winger as Mourinho adjusted the shape early on to compensate for Wolves’ back four. In theory, that’s good as it allows him to get into the box which is arguably his best skill and something we really haven’t seen him do. In practice, the tactics worked against him and he was pretty marginal as he drifted up and around the pitch not really doing anything.
2 stars: Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard is a fraud of a manager who is screwing up a Chelsea team that is both ludicrously stacked with young talent and also absurdly imbalanced. He will eventually implode like a dying star and I will die on this hill.
Harry Winks (Community — 2.0): Where to begin? Winks once again did all the things we hate about his game without the one thing that he usually does well — complete passes. I have never been so mad as to watch him dribble out of control across the width of the pitch and pass the ball out of bounds under zero pressure. Staying on the pitch for 90 minutes was criminal.
Jose Mourinho (Community — 1.5): You don’t ruin the bit that’s been running on this website for six years now, but dear lord what was Mourinho DOING? He screwed up the tactics expecting Wolves to play with a back three, and then compensated by matching the back four which mangled the formation, and he didn’t make any real adjustments to compensate. The trade-off for playing ultra-defensive counterattacking boring awful football was supposed to be winning matches. Now the matches are still boring and awful, and we’re also not winning because he’s not giving his incredible attacking talent a chance to do what they do well.
1 star: Mikel Arteta, Arsenal
This is obviously an incorrect rating because Arteta is actually a tactical, motivational, and managerial genius and Arsenal should basically make him manager for life. #ArtetaIn
No Tottenham players were as
bad good as Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Erik Lamela, The Ghost of Dele