Liverpool and Manchester City have dominated the Premier League this season and with just three games to go it is anyone’s guess who will end up as champions. Liverpool could still win the quadruple of Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup which would be unprecedented in the modern game especially when you consider the fixture schedule that involves. In my opinion they are the best two club sides in world football and for as long as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola remain in charge this dominance will continue. Klopp has already extended his contract until 2026 and I expect Guardiola to do the same very soon. Both display the qualities you want from a manager – top class coaching, tactical awareness, a defined style of play, good organisation, solid discipline, respect and motivational skills. When you look at Manchester Utd who dominated the Premier League for so many years, they have lost their way in terms of these attributes and I don’t see the qualities needed in their management and playing staff and it is little wonder that the results on the pitch are so poor.
There have been two occasions in my career when I was able to positively influence the manager I wanted – Chris Powell at Charlton and Daryl McMahon at Ebbsfleet – and both delivered success on the pitch until they were beset by negative and disruptive ownership issues. Both displayed the attributes referenced above and both produced exciting attacking teams that were a pleasure to watch. It was no surprise that attendances at the two clubs reflected that.
If I was involved in recruiting a manager now, I would be looking in the direction of Michael Beale who I first came across in his youth team days at Charlton. I did tell him when he moved from Rangers to Aston Villa that he needed to return home to The Valley one day!! Steven Gerrard would certainly not want to lose him, but it is a fact that at some point most coaches want to manage their own team, but the circumstances need to be right.
The most important thing you can give a manager is time. Constant change is the enemy of success and managers need to know that they are working in a supportive environment that thinks long term not short term, that they can bring in the players they want as part of a co-ordinated recruitment strategy that fits their defined style of play and tactics and that they have the coaching and support team they want. I base this on what I have observed during the 4 promotions and 2 championship successes I have been involved in. Also don’t underestimate how important the right culture is in a club. Just ask any of the Charlton players who played in the Premier League years or won promotion in 2012.