Five Fantastic Players Who Made so-so Coaches

Manny OtikoContributor IIIOctober 11, 2012

Five Fantastic Players Who Made so-so Coaches

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    Soccer is a funny old game. 

    There are players who are blessed with great natural talent and leadership abilities, who you would think would be able to translate those skills into management. But that is not often the case.

    Too often we have seen soccer greats stumble when they have to pull on the tracksuit and pace the touchline.This leads us to the saying that great players make lousy managers and average players make great managers.

    One of the prime examples of this is Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger who was arguably an average defender with RC Strasbourg. (However he did play on a Championship team.) In addition, Jose Mourinho, one of the world's greatest coaches, never even played at the top level. 

    Here are some players who were great on the field, but average on the touchline

John Barnes

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    John Barnes terrorized defenders on the wing for Watford and then Liverpool in the '80s and '90s.

    He was widely regarded as one of the most naturally talented players of his time. He also finished as Liverpool's top scorer when he was moved from the wing to inside forward with devastating effect.

    Barnes, a graduate of a private high school, came from an upper-class background and was more articulate and thoughtful than the average football player. Former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was impressed with Barnes' views on the game and when Dalglish returned to Celtic, he appointed Barnes as head coach.

    Things didn't work out for Barnes as well off the field as on it, and he got the axe before the end of the season. He was also fired by Tranmere. Barnes later became a pundit, and his managerial career was so short that most fans have forgotten he even had a spell in the dugout.  

Ruud Gullit

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    Ruud Gullit was a World Player of the Year who lead a resurgent Dutch squad to victory in the 1988 Euros.

    He also practically won everything with an AC Milan team that steamrolled opponents across Europe. They famously demolished a strong Barca team 4-0 in the Champions League final.

    After his spell in Italy, Gullit moved to Chelsea and shone as a midfielder in Glenn Hoddle's new-look side. After Hoddle left, Gullit was appointed Chelsea manager, and guided the Blues to an FA Cup win. However he was fired after a dispute with the board and replaced by Gianluca Vialli. 

    Gullit later turned up at Newcastle where he almost inspired a mutiny by disgruntled players. He also made the mistake of trying to sell Newcastle legend Alan Shearer. Paul Dalglish, Kenny's son, later accused Gullit of holding a grudge because of his famous father, who the Dutchman replaced at Newcastle.

    Gullit also did himself no favors during his short spell as manager of LA Galaxy, where he was alleged to have spent more time in LA night clubs than on the training ground. He also coached Russian club Terek Grozny for less than a year and was sacked because of his lack of success on the field and "party lifestyle."

    Needless to say, when people mention Gullit, they only talk about his playing career. 

Kevin Keegan

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    With his bubble perm, endorsement deals, helicopter and records, Kevin Keegan was the original British soccer superstar, way before David Beckham.

    If you grew up in the '70s and the '80s, Keegan was the man.

    And he charted a successful career with Liverpool, Hamburg, Southampton and Newcastle. At each place, he scored goals and pushed the team to success. In fact the only place where he ended up without a trophy was Southampton, although they did qualify for Europe. 

    Keegan was respected on the international level and was one of the few British players of the '70s to win the European Player of the Year award. After a spell out of the game, Keegan returned to manage his beloved Newcastle and managed to win them promotion. Back in the top division, Newcastle played an exciting brand of football and had a side chock-full of entertainers such as David Ginola, Les Ferdinand and Peter Beardsley.

    Problem is they also leaked goals.

    While Keegan managed to get his team to score goals, he was woeful at tactics. He was alleged to have said he never bothered with tactics, and just picked the best players. After leaving Newcastle, Keegan found success at Fulham, who he steered to the Premier League. But Keegan's shortcomings as a manager were revealed when he was given the England manager's job.

    He was responsible for a team that flopped in the 2000 Euros and lost 1-0 to Germany at Wembley. Keegan's term was notoriously dubbed the "reign of error." Keegan slightly redeemed himself with spells at Man. City where he won promotion to the EPL, and Newcastle again, who he saved from relegation.

    But the England disaster permanently stained his coaching career. The emotional Keegan resigned from several teams and many soccer watchers believed that he lacked the temperament to be a great manager. 

Roy Keane

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    Roy Keane was the prototypical captain at Manchester United, the center of the team's midfield engine room and he also had drive and passion that spurred the whole team forward.

    Keane was the typical alpha male captain whose passion sometimes got out of control. He won virtually every trophy at United in the '90s, although he missed the Champions League final because of suspension.

    With his leadership qualities, it was a given that Keane was going to move into management. However, his record as a coach is somewhat uneven.

    He coached Sunderland to promotion to the EPL, but once there, the team hung in the bottom half of the league. After an abrupt resignation, Keane later found himself at Ipswich. He eventually parted ways with the Tractor Boys after he failed to win promotion. 

    Keane is likely to return to management, but one could almost see the frustration on his face, as a great player failed to get the best out of the teams he coached. 

Bryan Robson

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    Robson was dubbed "Captain Marvel" because of his importance to the team.

    Robson was the ideal captain, a player who would literally sacrifice his body for the team. His style was so physical that he often spent long spells on the injury list.

    Robson also managed to rack up much-needed goals for United and England. He also won every domestic trophy during his time at United and was tipped to be a future manager when Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

    With his natural leadership skills, Robson eventually moved into a player-manager position at Middlesborough, who he managed to win promotion to the Premier League and guide to a League Cup and FA Cup finals.

    But that was the height of Robson's success, Middlesboro were relegated during their first season in the EPL, and although they won promotion again, Robson never turned the side into a trophy-winning team, even though he signed several old pals such as the aging Paul Gascoigne.

    Robson had spells at Bradford, West Brom, who he saved from relegation, and later Sheffield United, without much success. The saddest thing about Robson's career is that a fantastic player is remembered by many younger fans as a somewhat ineffective manager.