x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Few manage to make a successful transition

Great players do not always make great managers. And judging by the growing trend of the Premier League, the worse you were as a player, the more likely you are to be handed the overcoat.

Michael Laudrup has settled into life at Swansea City.
Michael Laudrup has settled into life at Swansea City.

Great players do not always make great managers. And judging by the growing trend of the Premier League, the worse you were as a player, the more likely you are to be handed the overcoat.

Andre Villas-Boas? Could not kick muck up a tin as a player but he is coveted as a coach.

Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers? Not sure either of them even liked playing, but both are partial to a good coaching manual.

Alan Pardew represented England's semi-professional international side. Meaning he was so unfancied as a player he needed a day job to supplement his income. Yet he is doing fine at Newcastle United.

It is all Jose Mourinho's fault, of course, proving that you can have a superstar's career - and the commensurate ego - even if you were always picked last in the playground.

In the early days of the Premier League, it was the opposite. The likes of Graeme Sounness, Kenny Dalglish and Trevor Francis whiled away their mid-lives - between being playing greats and Al Jazeera studio pundits - by managing elite clubs.

Nowadays, caps and medals are less valued than a working knowledge of a MacBook Pro and a well thumbed copy of Michael Lewis's Moneyball.

Dalglish proved as much last season when his second coming at Liverpool was a washout.

And yet, through it all, there remains the odd former icon fighting the corner of the legend turned coach.

Most notably at present, Michael Laudrup, whose early days at Swansea City have been refreshingly bright.

And he had a tough act to follow, given the job done at the overachieving Welsh club by Rodgers, a man who played 104 less international matches than he did.

One of the greatest problems a once-great footballer is said to face is empathising with players of lesser ability than they had. What was instinctive for them is less so for their new underlings.

Maybe so. Or maybe it is a case of realising the highly paid players in their charge can actually play a bit, even if it is to a less celebrated level than they managed.

By the look of Laudrup's start at the Liberty Stadium, particularly after emerging in credit from a week of fixtures against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, he has it down pat.

pradley@thenational.ae

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