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Five top footballers who failed as a manager

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The men behind the machines are probably the ones accountable for the criticism thrown, and being a football manager is no different in any state. You get the applause if the results are good, but you’ll be thrown out of your throne if the ship starts to sink.

Being a manager can be as arduous as it can get. Former Manchester United winger, Ryan Giggs once opened up about his short-term managerial stint with the club he spent his entire career with, saying that he needed a psychologist after leaving the club as a manager in 2014.

“I saw a psychologist when I left United because I had been straight from school into being an apprentice,” Giggs said.

“I had never needed a psychologist while I was playing. But it was little things. It helped because I was going into the unknown.”

‘Heading into the unknown,’ he said. That pretty much sums up why some of the greatest players of the sport have failed miserably to translate their success as a manager. Here, we give you five names who dominated football for generations but failed as a manager.

Diego Maradona

Starting with the very obvious, Argentina’s Diego Maradona needs no introduction whatsoever. Considered as the greatest of all time, Maradona started off his managerial career in 1994 with Corrientes and Racing Club, but with very little success.

More than 10 years after that, he reunited with his beloved Argentina team, whom he made the world champions in 1986 as a player. A romantic reunion, however, was marred by the struggles during the qualification of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. After a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Bolivia in qualifying, Argentina were on the verge of not making it to the finals.

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They somehow did though.

And that, perhaps, remains his only plausible achievement as a manager. His last game in charge of the national team was a 4-0 defeat against Germany at the quarter-final stage.

Maradona has been a sheer journeyman as a manager. A year after his World Cup failure, he moved to the United Arab Emirates Football League before travelling back to South America to join Dorados and finally Gimnasia de La Plata in Argentina.

Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry’s credentials as a player are well and truly scripted and will certainly be never forgotten. With the ease the Frenchman dwelled into the English Premier League in only his first season is commendable, but what’s more admirable is the level of consistency he kept.

After hanging his boots in 2014, Henry began working with Arsenal’s youth academy before getting his big break in 2018 with the club he began his career with, AS Monaco. Henry promised to bring the professionalism taught to him by Arsene Wenger at Monaco, but the end result was what was lacking.

His first game in charge ended in a 2-1 defeat against Strasbourg and he, in fact, went without a win for over a month. He brought in a much-needed reinforcement in the January transfer window on 2019, but Henry was dismissed even before the market was shut. He won just four out of the 20 games and lost a whopping 15.

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In November 2019, he moved to Canada, joining Montreal Impact, but he has won just one of the five games so far.

Gary Neville

Former Manchester United full-back became a reputed football pundit after hanging his boots, and thus, his appointment as a new head coach of Valencia in 2015 was seen as a massive coup. The appointment was greeted with mixed emotions given that the club was in a state of despair and for Neville, he had no managerial experience whatsoever.

His first game in a charge was a 2-0 defeat to Lyon in the Champions League, and as Valencia crashed out of the tournament, finishing third in the group, they were demoted to the UEFA Europa League. In February 2016, Neville suffered a shocking 7-0 defeat against Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey before his team went on an eight-game winless run in the league since his appointment.

It took him two months to register his first win with the club, and that remains his only highlight as he was suspended in March 2016 for his poor track record.

Gianfranco Zola

After an illustrious career as a player, Italian forward Gianfranco Zola moved into management in 2008 after a stint with Italy’s U21 side. Joining the Premier League side West Ham, he made a decent start to his new life, but began shaking during the 2009–10 season. A disagreement with the board coupled with the other issues at hand saw the Hammers finishing 17th in the tally. Following the conclusion of the 2009-10 season, Zola was relieved of his duties.

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In 2012, the Italian moved to Watford, and led them to a third-place finish, and thus a place in the play-offs. A 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Wembley left Watford grounded, and thus began the era of despair. Having not won a game since October 2013, Zola resigned from his position in December that year, leaving Watford 13th in the league.

Since then, he has had stints with the Serie A side Cagliari, Al-Arabi SC is Qatar and Birmingham City in England, but none of them have ended as he would have hoped for.

Tony Adams

Nicknamed "Mr Arsenal" for his life-long service for the Gunners, it was all but given that centre-back, Tony Adams would go on to become one of the finest coaches of all time.

After retiring from the game, Adam took a job at Wycombe Wanderers in 2003 but failed to prevent the club from being relegated, winning just 12 out of 53 games in charge. After a few stints here and there as an assistant coach, Portsmouth roped in the Arsenal man in October 2008 before dismissing him in February 2009. During his short tenure, he won a mere four of 22 games.

Eight years later, he landed himself a job at Granada in April 2017. With only a handful of games left and the team facing a possibility of relegation, Adams suffered seven straight defeats, registering a win percentage of 0.00.

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Feature image courtesy: AFP / Hans Punz, Yann Coatsaliou

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