Man­agers, who needs them?

World Soccer - - The World -

How much dif­fer­ence does a man­ager make with his pres­ence in the dugout? Well, quite a lot it seemed when Manch­ester City, with Pep Guardi­ola ban­ished to the stand, con­trived to lose fee­bly at home to un­fan­cied Lyon in the Eu­ro­pean Cup.

Mikel Arteta, who took over, was forced to watch his team sub­side against op­po­si­tion which should have posed no great prob­lem. Come the fol­low­ing Satur­day, with Guardi­ola back in the dugout, City went to Cardiff City and thrashed them 5-0.

You can draw what con­clu­sions you like from th­ese two matches. Some might think they re­flect a change to­wards the kind of psy­cho­log­i­cal sit­u­a­tion that has long hap­pened in Italy, where man­agers are of such supreme im­por­tance, not least dur­ing a game.

This takes me many years back to a restau­rant in Rome in 1955. Across the room where I was seated was a fa­mous man­ager in Bela Guttmann, once a Hun­gar­ian in­ter­na­tional player, late to be­come enor­mously suc­cess­ful in Europe with Ben­fica.

He had just been sacked by Mi­lan, al­though they were top of the league. And he told a droll and in­dica­tive story of what had hap­pened some years ago when Luc­ch­ese, then mi­nor play­ers in Serie A, were on their way by train to Turin to con­front the mighty Ju­ven­tus.

En route, their man­ager took ill and died. How could they pos­si­bly play, not least against such fear­some op­po­si­tion, with­out a man­ager? Des­per­ately, they phoned all over Italy till at last a coach was found and he took his seat on the bench just in time for the kick-off.

Against all odds and ex­pec­ta­tions, Luc­ch­ese forced a draw and at the fi­nal whis­tle they car­ried the new man­ager off on their shoul­ders.

Story...Bela Guttmann

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