no_country_for_old_men_

It is certainly looking that way.

Look at the top teams in Europe outside of the Premier League. Real Madrid now have Zinedine Zidane who, at 43, has just taken over the managerial role. They are, arguably, the biggest team in the world. Whether or not he is successful remains to be seen but it appears that Madrid have taken a leaf from Barcelona’s book by promoting from within.

Luis Enrique is the man in charge of Barcelona. At 45, he is already very successful and, with the team he currently manages, there is no reason to think that the success will dry up anytime soon.

There are now three teams in Spain of course, the third being Atletico Madrid, managed by 45 year-old Diego Simeone. Since his appointment Atletico have seriously challenged the dominance of the big two in a similar way to when a young Alex Ferguson was given the job of breaking the Celtic/Rangers monopoly when he was appointed as manager of Aberdeen. He also got the United job at 45 and the rest is history.

In France, the runaway leaders are Paris Saint-Germain and they have one of the “older” coaches in Laurent Blanc, who is 50. They also have more money than anybody else in France and, in a similar way to Chelsea and Manchester City, find that they can challenge for the top honours due to being able to afford top players and managers.

Italy has a top three with a slightly higher average age of 52. At Napoli, Maurizio Sarri is 57, Juventus have Massimo Allegri who is 48 and Inter Milan have ex-Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini at 51. The Italian league is the closest of the ones mentioned to date. Is this because the clubs are more equal in quality and wealth?

Bayern Munich, the Bundesliga leaders have, for the time being, Pep Guardiola who, at 44, is one of their youngest ever managers. He will also be one of their very successful managers by the time he leaves at the end of this season.

So there is a very strong argument for having a younger man at the helm, as four out of the five top leagues in Europe prove. One of the teams mentioned will probably go on to win the Champion’s League this year.

The English Premier League, however, is trying to prove the opposite. The four “top” teams traditionally, as opposed to present table, are managed by the four old men. Granted, they are probably all on borrowed time as their owners/CEO’s/chairmen realise what is happening in the Premier League, not just in Europe.

Chelsea, with Hiddink until the end of the season, are already looking for the next bright young thing.

Manchester City appear to have already agreed a deal to replace their old man with Pep Guardiola, although nothing is either signed or sealed just yet.

Arsenal are hoping that they can win the title this year. The fans are hoping the same with the added wish that Wenger retires, should it come to pass. There are still quite a lot of Arsenal fans who hope he retires even if it doesn’t come to pass! If he does retire, then expect Arsenal to be looking at the younger end of the management market too.

Manchester United don’t want the most successful foreign manager ever to manage in England in charge at Old Trafford. At 52, they probably think Jose Mourinho is too old! That would be according to the suits in their 70’s who still, unfortunately, have their arthritic finger on the pulse. They also think, more realistically, that he isn’t the right “type”. Apparently, according to persistent rumours, Diego Simeone is the preferred choice.

The other factor in this “age” equation is the teams who WILL be challenging in the near future. With the exception of Leicester who are the Churchillian riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have appointed young, very ambitious managers, so it won’t be long before they are winning things. Consequently, the old guard has had to react.

At present, the top English teams are being left behind by their European counterparts. The best players already play in Spain and Germany for reasons previously discussed here. The best managers also reside in these countries but, if the hierarchy at clubs in England have their way, that will not be the case for much longer.

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