The same may possibly be said about Antonio Conte but, as yet, we don’t know enough about him or his motives to put forward a case one way or the other.

Other older managers such as Arsene Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Robson and even, to a lesser extent, Manuel Pelligrini, Louis van Gaal and Claudio Ranieri took jobs at clubs where there was a challenge.

Look at the state Manchester United were in when Fergie took over, Leicester City with Ranieri can never have dreamt of winning the title when he first took over, and even Sir Bobby always had to try and improve the lot of whichever team he managed. Pellegrini and van Gaal took over at big teams which needed tweaking to get them to be amongst the world’s best. They both failed in this task and were both replaced because of this failure.

What all these managers had in common is that they had very strong feelings about the club they managed. It is fair to say that Ferguson loved Manchester United as he had previously loved Aberdeen. Bobby Robson most certainly loved Newcastle but also put in the same effort when managing Barcelona. Neither Pellegrini nor van Gaal wanted to leave Manchester and just ask Ranieri where he would rather be right now.

Yes, they get paid ridiculous sums of money for being involved in what, after all, is a game and I am not suggesting for one minute that any of them would have been stupid enough to do the job without recompense. The point is that they long ago reached the stage when money became an irrelevance.

The mortgage is now paid off, they have no outstanding car loans and the overdraft has been settled. In other words they do/did it for the love of the club and of the game.

When considering the personalities of José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola I see a stark contrast between these two and all of the aforementioned managers. I see two managers who, without a doubt, love the game of football but, do they love their jobs and do they love the clubs where they do their jobs?

I suspect that the answer to both questions is; No. They are both bordering on being mercenary but it isn’t the money that is their drug. No, it is the winning and the reputation and the respect that goes with it all. Do you really think they care who they manage as long as they are winning? No, not at all.

Why will both of them only take on big clubs? The age-old question has always been; “why don’t they manage in the lower leagues so they can really show everybody how good they are?” That is not what they want to do. They want to show everybody how much they can WIN and their chances of doing so are increased dramatically if they can land a job at a big club, preferably one with endless amounts of cash.

So the club, to an extent, becomes irrelevant in as much as there are only about ten in the world who would be attractive to these two at their best. The potential to win trophies is what is relevant. The possibility to show the world what a great manager they are. It is certainly one big ego trip!

Love for the club does not enter into the equation. Mourinho “loved” Chelsea, or so he said. It was his first English club and he does love to manage in the Premier League but United was always the job he wanted. He was never going to get it while Ferguson was in charge but he is there now. Manchester United offers him the reputation, the size of club and fanbase and available transfer funds that an ego the size of Mourinho’s craves.

I would guess that Guardiola would say that he loved Barcelona. So why didn’t he stay there? Why not build a dynasty as Ferguson did at Old Trafford? The answer is simple, Guardiola wanted to further his own career and most definitely had his own agenda.

Staying with the best club team in the world did not necessarily show the world how good HE was. He wanted the recognition he thought HE deserved. Whilst at Barcelona many people were of the opinion that anybody could manage a team that good. Pep saw this as a slight against himself and set out to prove how good he is.

Their list of clubs doesn’t really prove how good they are at managing teams. It does show that they are very good, in the short term, at producing a team which will win trophies. They have proved this at Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid, hardly the shrinking violets of the football world.

Can they then build a second and third trophy winning team at the same club? We may never know because, by design, they don’t stay long enough to try.

So love for a team seems to have gone from the game at the very top level. All that matters is the ego of the manager. This is why, after two or maybe three years, successful or not, Manchester United and Manchester City will be looking for new managers.

  1. RedMe says:

    Love the club? Did Ferguson love Manchester United when he started? I agree that Mourinho and Guardiola certainly love football, I don’t think you can get so involved during a game if you don’t love it.


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