An easy one for a Saturday morning. What does Bryan Robson, Tony Adams, Alan Shearer, David Platt, Chris Waddle, Ian Rush, Peter Shilton, Diego Maradona and John Barnes have in common? With over 700 caps between them they help prove the old adage that the best footballing brains do not make the best footballing managers and by no way is this list complete.
So why is that? Some would say the highest profile players don't need the grief and instability of managing after they hang up their boots. These days the majority seem to go into the media, even those with an IQ and personality of an armadillo. Or many ex-pro's simply walk off into the sunset of pro-am golf and property investing counting their huge wads of money. Many actually 'disappear' within coaching academies and honourably put something back into the game at a grassroots level but few players are willing to start a football management career at the lower end of the game.
Paul Ince did, although some would say the colour of his skin gave him no option. Steve Bruce, Sam Allardyce, Martin O'Neil and Nigel Clough all started at the bottom of the food chain and have successfully moved up the ladder but many have come a cropper working with players who will never be as good or football-intelligent as they were in their own playing days.John Barnes
yesterday (again) became the latest example. An absolute joy to watch with a ball at his feet, he only knew how to play the game one way but despite his footballing convictions, hard work and a huge rolodex of contacts Barnes found it impossible to relay his ideas to lesser footballing mortals. No one's fault, Roy Keane is having the same problem at Ipswich. Alan Shearer, the Messiah, oversaw one win at Newcastle. Keep an eye on Steve Staunton at bottom-placed Darlington and Chris Sutton at Lincoln for future hapless illustrations.
Come on we've all had our patience tested when you have to tell someone how to do something not twice but three or four times and footballers are no different but management skills are part learnt but part natural. Assuredness, tolerance and ability to learn will only become a skill if you are willing to open your mind to it, and for most fledgling managers that began when they played. How often do we hear of ex-players saying: "Oh I knew he'd make a good manager when I used to see him on the training pitch."
Some of the best career league managers were more of what I would call working class players , such as David Moyes and Sir Alex as opposed to those suffering from superstardom. There are some fine ex-players that have bucked trend. Kenny Daglish, Graeme Souness Gordon Strachan, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff.... yeh not many Englishman I know.
The difference with those listed listed above is that they were all 'born' as football managers with the preverbial silver spoon in their mouths. Big budgets, hero worship and most important of all being able to work with very good players. Dwight Yorke said recently that Roy Keane would only be a success managing a national team, and for many ex-players, think Jürgen Klinsmann, Marco van Basten, Dunga and closer to home Mark Hughes and Stuart Pearce this for some reason became a much easier transition into management than the day to day grind of working for a club.
But then again John Barnes tried that too, without much success with Jamaica. Oh well for some maybe the natural god-given talent they were given comes to a grinding halt once the boots are hung up for the last time.