5 World Football Coaches Who May Have Lost Their Touch
Soccer coaching can be a harsh career path.
Pep Guardiola won 13 trophies in four years at Barcelona, all while producing a quality of football that was the absolute pinnacle of the Beautiful Game.
He also aged visibly before our eyes, and was driven by the unrelenting pressure and stress to quit at the age of 40.
No doubt, the soccer world's most successful coach will be back after a soothing rest. Having bowed out at the top of his game, Guardiola's services will be more sought after than even the most brilliant of players.
But there are some talented football managers who perhaps should have followed Pep's example and quit while the going was good.
Because even for the best, things in soccer can go horribly wrong at any moment.
Here are five football managers who seem to have possibly lost their touch.
Of course, it could be argued that even Pep Guardiola was starting to lose his winning touch in his final season.
In 2011-12, nemesis José Mourinho finally overcame Barcelona, as Real Madrid won the championship for the first time since Guardiola had taken charge at the Camp Nou.
So it is ironic that now that Guardiola is gone and many are questioning whether this Barcelona team's glory days are behind them, Real Madrid are struggling quite alarmingly in La Liga.
Five games into the season, Real Madrid sit eight points off leaders Barcelona, with only two wins and notable defeats to Sevilla and Getafe.
In a title race between two such impeccable teams, any slip can be fatal. This early loss of points poses a monumental challenge for Real Madrid, and more specifically for José Mourinho.
If he can overcome it, and especially if he can guide the team to the Champions League glory they crave, Mourinho will prove he has not lost his winning touch.
Yet even then, the Portuguese manager seems to have lost the impervious quality that made Chelsea so reliably dominant during his tenure at Stamford Bridge.
One of Mourinho's strongest and most crucial traits then was his ability to manage a frankly difficult dressing room; to foster an unbreakable team spirit and inspire loyalty in his players.
That has not been the case at the Bernabéu.
Mourinho was embarrassed last year by a leaked training ground confrontation with Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas. This year already, Cristiano Ronaldo has hinted at his unhappiness, and Mourinho has lashed out at his players in the media—an unthinkable state of affairs in his Chelsea days.
It seems the Special One has lost at least one aspect of his special touch.
Scottish coach Paul Lambert has some remarkable achievements in his brief managerial career.
He led lowly Wycombe Wanderers to the League Cup semifinal in 2007, where the fourth-tier minnows managed to hold giants Chelsea to a draw before bowing out in the replay at Stamford Bridge.
But it was at Norwich City that Lambert really made his mark as a manager, leading the Canaries up to the Premier League with successive promotions first from League One in 2010 and then from the Championship in 2011.
His success at Norwich made Lambert seem the perfect candidate to replace the much-maligned Alex McLeish at Aston Villa for the 2012-13 season.
But the Scotsman has struggled to bring his winning ways to Villa Park.
Despite an eye-catching extra-time League Cup win over Manchester City, Villa look dangerously vulnerable in the Premier League, with four points from five games. Most damning was their recent 4-1 loss to Southampton, which gave the Saints their first points of the season.
It's a cruel aspect of the game that last season's sensation so often turns into next season's dud.
Brendan Rodgers became one of soccer's hottest coaching commodities in 2011-12 when his Swansea side made their Premier League debut to universal acclaim.
Pundits who had tipped the Welsh side for relegation were proved wrong as the Swans stylishly swashbuckled their way to 12th.
Their success won Rodgers a glamour move to Liverpool, but the going has been tough at Anfield.
Rodgers has overseen the club's worst start to a season in over a century.
And while he can't be entirely to blame for the club's struggles, he looks in grave danger of losing both credibility and likability through his unfortunate participation in the ill-conceived documentary series Being: Liverpool—in which he is revealed to have a cringe-inducing, giant self-portrait hanging in his home.
Luiz Felipe Scolari
A decade ago, Luiz Felipe Scolari was on top of the world.
Despite fears that Brazil would do the unthinkable and fail to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, "Big Phil" led the team not only to qualify, but to win their record fifth World Cup.
He went on to a successful spell with Portugal, and became the name at the top of the list for every club owner and national association in need of a first-class manager.
In 2008, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich won Scolari's signature.
And that's where a stellar career started unravelling. Fast.
Scolari lasted less than a season at Stamford Bridge. After being sacked for poor results and for never seeming to have the dressing room behind him, Scolari took a blatantly money-fuelled posting at Uzbekistan club Bunyodkor.
That stint lasted just a year, and Scolari returned to Brazilian club Palmeiras, where he had enjoyed a successful spell from 1997 to 2000.
But success was more elusive the second time around, and Scolari was sacked in September 2012 after a disastrous run of results.
Despite murmurings that he might make a triumphant return to the Brazilian national team as they strive to win a historic World Cup on home turf in 2014, it seems Scolari will have to content himself with a mere ambassadorial role.
Where did it all start going wrong for Chris Coleman?
At Fulham, the young Welshman was highly regarded as one of the brightest up-and-comers in football management.
Taking over from the sacked Jean Tigana as caretaker manager in 2003, Coleman earned a permanent contract after avoiding relegation.
In 2003-04, his very first full season in charge of a football team, he steered the Cottagers to ninth in the Premier League—a stunning accomplishment considering the side started the season relegation favourites.
In some ways, Coleman was a victim of his own success, as the modest club struggled to repeat that success. He was eventually sacked in 2007.
Coleman then moved to La Liga's Real Sociedad, where his career took a peculiar turn after getting caught in a lie over going out nightclubbing on a work night.
Coleman's latest appointment as Wales manager has done nothing to rehabilitate what was once such a promising career.
Despite having a squad packed with rare talent in such players as Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, Coleman has steered Wales to five consecutive defeats, including an embarrassing 6-1 mauling at the hands of Serbia.
It is a shameful record for a team that showed such promise under predecessor Gary Speed.