What Makes a Winning Football Manager?

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What Makes a Winning Football Manager?
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The football manager franchise of video games has us all convinced that, with a basic knowledge of the sport, a decent transfer kitty and a keyboard, any one of us can take even the smallest club from the lower divisions to the European Cup.

It’s a fantastic notion, and buying into it can be a lot of fun.

But on training pitches all over the world—some of which might not even be that far from the cafes where grown men dress up in suit and tie to play football manager (they exist, trust me)—there are real people instilling in real players the values of hard work, teamwork and technical ability.

And in the boardrooms of world football’s biggest clubs, there are real managers trying to convince real chairmen to open the purse strings for this player or that, because he is surely the one to put the team over the top.

It’s a game that’s played at in real life, and some managers are better at it than others.

But what makes a good one?

What characteristics, what knowledge, what intangibles do the very best football managers possess? And if one were to build the perfect manager, which of those attributes would be thrown into the biological recipe?

Using five managers as examples, the following slides will attempt to answer those questions. And hopefully, the hypothetical manager that emerges from our managerial test tube will be able to win all the trophies, actual or otherwise.

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