Football, over the last couple of seasons, has been witnessing a ‘change of guard’. Players who we adored in their prime have retired, managers that headed some of the greatest sides in history have resigned. All this has given rise to the next generation of football personnel ranging from talented young footballers to talented young tacticians.
In this piece we will be focusing on the Top 10 Young Football Managers, that could be at the helm of some of the biggest clubs in World Football, in the not-so-distant future.
Please note that we have restricted this list to ‘upcoming’ managers rather than established ones or ones that are fairly well-known in the World of football/earned moves to big clubs (Eg: Brendan Rodgers, Andre Villas Boas etc).
Scroll down to read Analysis on each managers from experts & journalists.
5. Vitor Pereira
Current club: Al-Ahli
Previous clubs (selected): FC Porto; Santa Clara; Espinho; Sanjoanense
Major Honours/Accolades: Portuguese Primeira Liga (2011-12 & 2012-13); UEFA Super Cup (2011); Taca da Liga (2013)
Even though his background includes several years as assistant and head coach, Vítor Pereira has not amassed a great deal of experience at the top level – not unlike his predecessor at FC Porto, André Villas-Boas, despite being almost ten years his senior. However, Pereira was able to lead his charges to back-to-back Portuguese titles, with a single defeat in 60 league matches.
Combined with a playing career (albeit modest), his degree in Physical Education and specialization in football have given him a knowledge of the game that is second to none, which surely showed over the last three years (bear in mind he was AVB’s assistant coach at FC Porto).
Pereira’s strong suits are clearly his ability to implement his ideas – which revolve around ball possession, high pressing and controlling the match at all times – and convey them to the players. Conversely, his media persona can sometimes fail him and he is not necessarily a motivational leader, something that rears its head when his team are trailing, for instance.
All in all, Pereira is his own man, with strong convictions (on and off the pitch), and a coach who takes pride in defending his men against what he perceives – or conceives – as threats. His tactical skills are quite good, but he may come across as somewhat bland, especially when compared to his countrymen José Mourinho and AVB.
A move to Al Ahli came as a surprise to many, but his coaching ability is there for all to see. The possibility of Pereira returning to Europe are still high, as he still has some unfinished business in the region.
This write-up was contributed by Portuguese and Porto expert, Vasco Mota Pereira.
4. Vincenzo Montella
Current club: Fiorentina
Previous clubs: Catania; Roma (as caretaker)
Don’t be fooled by the wry smiles, Vincenzo Montella is a determined man. Without that streak to his personality he would not have emerged as one of the rising stars of Italian coaching. You need to be pretty unflappable to survive in the controversial world of Calcio.
He cut his managerial teeth in the Roma youth set-up and was elevated to the top job on a caretaker basis before being dropped to make way for Luis Enrique. More than one fan of the Giallorossi has expressed regret at that decision as Montella moved to Catania and started to make his name for some innovative, entertaining and aggressive football.
His hallmark in Sicily was an exciting 4-3-3 formation and an impressive season earned him a move to the Fiorentina set-up desperate to revive its fortunes. He showed tactical versatility by switching to a 3-5-2 during the early part of the campaign before reverting to 4-3-3. It took the Viola from a relegation fight the previous season to narrowly missing out on a Champions League place. And all of it achieved with a grace under pressure which has already had other teams in Serie A taking a close interest.
This write-up was contributed by Giancarlo Rinaldo, an Italian football & Fiorentina expert. You can follow him on twitter @ginkers
3. Diego Simeone
Current club: Atletico Madrid
Previous clubs: Racing; Estudiantes; River Plate; San Lorenzo; Catania
Major Honours/Accolades: UEFA Europa League (2012); Copa del Rey (2012-13); UEFA Super Cup (2012); Argentine Primera Division (2006 & 2008)
Diego Simeone has earned great success at Atlético Madrid through his combination of matching a winning mentality with a highly organised and rigid tactical approach. At a club he must know like the back of his hand following two spells as a player, ‘El Cholo’ demands instant respect from the team and fans alike, having built a relatively small squad of whom all are very closely-knit and disciples of his managerial style. Anybody not on board with the system is seen as detrimental to the group’s harmony and is made to seek an exit.
Never someone to mess around, Simeone simply looks to maximise the potential of his workforce to the very fullest, by putting his complete faith in them and playing to their strengths in return for 100% commitment and desire to help the team win. Tactically his most common approach is highly conservative, building upon a strong defensive unit, and since his arrival at Atlético he has turned their once ridiculed backline into the most secure in Spain. He also has a dedicated coaching team behind him, who together work tirelessly to prepare for each opponent and counter any threat they may be posed with.
Back in February 2012 he told press that he would “prefer to have one chance and score one goal than have 15 and score none”, and that has been clearly demonstrated on more than one occasion since then. However, it has proven effective and over time he has shown he can provide the consistency so many of his predecessors have failed to. His style may not resemble the free-flowing attacking football Atleti fans have been used to, but is of the ruthless, winning variety they have craved for so long.
This write-up was contributed by Billy Edwards, an Atletico Madrid fan. You can follow him on twitter @billyedwards94
2. Michael Laudrup
Current club: Swansea City
Previous clubs: Brondby; Getafe; Spartak Moscow; Mallorca
Major Honours/Accolades: Football League Cup (2013); Dutch Superliga (2004-05); Danish Cup (2003 & 2005); Danish Supercup (2002); Danish Manager of the Year (2003 & 2005)
Brendan Rodgers propelled Swansea into the Premier League and then secured an impressive 11th place finish on their return to the big time – how do you follow that? Simple. Just sign the bargain of the season, play more exciting attacking football, finish 8th and lift the first major trophy in the club’s history to cap off the club’s centenary year.
These were the feats of the Great Dane Michael Laudrup. Laudrup has not made wholesale changes to Swansea’s style of play just subtle tweaks to sharpen the Swans attack. For example, Laudrup has the Swans playing with a very narrow 4-2-3-1 with the attacking three, usually Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Pablo Hernandez, behind the striker perpetually rotating positions. Laudrup has retained Swansea’s much lauded passing game yet unlike Rodgers, Laudrup places more emphasis on the ball getting up the pitch quickly.
You cannot fault Laudrup’s efforts in the transfer market either, signing a whole host of quality players on a relatively small budget. Of course, his biggest coup was the jaw-droppingly cheap signature of Michu – a measly £2m for a player who filled two roles at times and scored 22 times in all competitions. His exploitation of the Spanish market has been brilliant – for me, Chico Flores is still one of the most underrated players in the league and it’ll be interesting to see how Laudrup’s latest Spanish recruits, Canas, Pozuelo and Amat, fare in the Premier League
He may not have the same personable feel with the fans (or certain players apparently) that Rodgers and Martinez possessed, but you cannot argue with the results he is getting. Laudrup has a reputation of not staying at clubs for too long and leaving clubs suddenly; Swansea have already endured a mass amount of speculation surrounding Laudrup, but it appears the Dane is here to stay for the 2013/14. As for the 2014/15 season – personally, I can see him being elsewhere by then.
This write-up was contributed by Matthew Harrison, an avid Swansea follower. Follow him on Twitter @mophead_88. Make sure you give his highly successful blog, lostboyos.wordpress.com, a look as well (@lostboyos)
1. Frank De Boer
Current club: Ajax Amsterdam
Major Honours/Accolades: Eredivisie (2010-11; 2011-12; 2012-13)
Frank de Boer replaced Martin Jol in 2010 as Ajax head coach; it would prove to serve as the starting point of the so-called Velvet Revolution. Many former-Ajax players took executives roles at the club and the approach has been quite fruitful so far. This season, Frank de Boer has won the Eredivisie for the third consecutive time.
In terms of tactics, de Boer completely changed Ajax’s playing style. Under Martin Jol, Ajax were depending on key players to win their matches. Football was played under the mantra: Give the ball to Luis Suarez, and we’ll see what happens.
As a big fan of Rinus Michels and later on Louis van Gaal’s “ totaal voetbal” approach, de Boer attempted to instill this. Although you could write a whole textbook about how “ totaal voetbal” should be played, the key points are: possession-based play, high pressure (as soon as the opponent gains possession), high defensive line and foremost the team should act as ONE unit, the opposite of Jol’s approach.
The former Louis van Gaal 4-3-3 formation was pulled out of the magic hat again. But Frank de Boer gave his own twist to it. “ We used to play with a real number 10 ( Litmanen and Bergkamp) but now we line up two attacking midfielders and one holding midfielder. But the philosophy is the same create triangles on the pitch, engineer a numerical advantage in midfield, and create danger from that. “
This is not the only change: orthodox wingers were swapped with wide forwards, and de Boer even experimented with a false-nine on occasions ( Eriksen).
One last thing is that he does not like the idea of adapting to his opponent. This has cost Ajax several defeats, especially in the Champions League. When confronted with this, de Boer responded with a sense of boastfulness: “ I’d rather go down fighting.”