Managers, who needs them?
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.