Life can be difficult for former sportsmen and athletes when their careers end. All too often they go straight from the limelight, to trying to grapple with a labour market that years of dedicated training count for little in. Of course many will remain in the sport they love, training younger athletes or working in outreach. A lucky few may even be able to find media work, writing for sport publications or providing expert punditry for TV broadcasters.
But there is one future career for future sportsmen, especially in team sports, which divides opinion and that is management. Many sports boast excellent player turner managers some notable examples including; Franz Beckenbaur and Mario Zagallo in football, Mike Ditka in the NFL and baseball’s Joe Torre. But however long the list of successes, the list of catastrophic failures may be longer still.
One problem is certainly that successful players can easily become overpromoted relative to their skill level because they are a club hero or otherwise “big name”. When Newcastle recruited former club icon Alan Shearer, who had no prior management experience at any level, as an emergency manager during a relegation dogfight; some suggested only he could provide a fairytale ending. Instead Shearer won just 1 game of his 8 in charge, and has said it is unlikely he will return to management again..
What some fail to appreciate is that top players have coped with the trials and tribulations of performing in the limelight day in, day out. Achieving the status of a legendary player requires hard work, dedication, focus and a winning mentality at all times; and instilling those attributes in a team is, in itself, a huge success.
Mark Hughes had all of these attributes and brought them into management, yet the current Stoke City boss could be the first Premier League managerial casualty of the 2017/18 season – according to FootieLive.
Current Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone knows all about being in the public spotlight. His simulation after David Beckham lashed out at him during the 1998 World Cup earned the latter a red card and the former “public hate figure” status. In fact, Diego Simeone was never far for controversy during his 19 year playing career; but still performed at the top level as a goal scoring central midfielder; and made 106 appearances for Argentina.
Guiding Atletico into their best period in decades; including a spectacular La Liga triumph last season, Simeone has a reputation for getting the best out of his strikeforce; under his watch Diego Costa was transformed from a bit part player to the most coveted centre-forward in Europe. Now he faces a new challenge in the form of Fernando Torres; a local hero who has seen his stock diminish considerably in the past 4 years.
It is incredibly clear that Torres, 30, is severely lacking confidence after a protracted failure at Chelsea; and it falls to Simeone to return it. His experience of coping with pressure day in, day out has clearly helped other players he has managed; and it is to be hoped Torres will be able to play out an upbeat swansong to his career at the Vicente Calderon stadium.
On Sunday Atletico (priced at 5.45 on Betsafe) will take on Barcelona (1.58) at the latter’s home ground, Camp Nou. Should Torres play a part in the game, it would represent an enormous gesture of confidence from his new manager and were he to score (4.20); the stage would really be set for an incredible comeback!