In days gone by, football managers like Sir Kenny Dalglish Sir Alex Ferguson were omnipotent at their respective football clubs, taking responsibility for everything from the organisation of the first team and handling player contracts to liaising with the canteen staff!

However, the specific role of ‘manager’ has largely been phased out the sport in the higher echelons of the game, with this type of leadership structure only found sparingly in lower divisions and at grassroots level.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the core differences between coaching and management, and why the latter role is no longer commonplace.

The Core Differences Between Coaching and Management

Current Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino has talked candidly about the differences between coaching and management, having performed both roles during his career.

He worked successfully as the manager at Southampton between January 2013 and May 2014, before operating with similar distinction as a head coach at Tottenham between the summer of 2014 and November 2019.

“If you are the manager, you decide many things about the club,” he said when quizzed on the distinction. This includes staff hiring, recruitment and player contracts (in conjunction with the owners), while simultaneously coaching and selecting first team players.

“If you’re the coach, however, “you’ll just train and pick the team on a weekly basis, while the owner or director of football will take the pressure off you by dealing with the rest”.

So, the manager’s role is far more multifaceted and would require considerable organisation and time management skills, whereas a head coach can be more focused on tasks such as developing players and evolving collective tactical plans.

However, there are pitfalls associated with coaching. For example, a head coach won’t have complete control over player recruitment, as targets will be identified and signed collaboratively with a director of football. In some cases, head coaches can have minimal control over which players are signed, creating a potential lack of accountability in instances where things go wrong.

This can also breed conflict within a club’s senior leadership structure, especially if there’s poor communication or cases where egos collide.

Why Is the Head Coach Role Permeant?

Overall, it’s thought that the benefits of the head coach role and its greater focus outweigh its potential pitfalls, especially if clubs hires well when recruiting a director of football or technical director.

This certainly helps to create more defined roles within the club, while ensuring that coaches can focus on strategically important tasks such as improving players and preparing for weekly matchdays.

It can also be argued that the technical and tactical aspects of coaching are now more evolved than ever, as elite-level teams are now organised with an incredible level of detail in terms of positional play and establishing pressing triggers. So, a head coach can focus meticulously on getting these facets right, without having to worry about other time-consuming but non-strategic considerations.

Of course, creating a structure that features a head coach and a director of football is also becoming a trend, and one that continues to sweep throughout different tiers of the sport!

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