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Maradona, Gazza and Other Footballers Who Failed as Managers

Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterSeptember 5, 2013

Maradona, Gazza and Other Footballers Who Failed as Managers

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    Steven Gerrard admitted in a recent interview with TwentyFour7 magazine that he is planning to train as a manger in the near future and would consider a Liverpool appointment a “dream come true.”

    “I am planning on doing my coaching badges and qualifications over the next 12 months,” he said. “I definitely see myself as a manager rather than a coach but that could change.”

    About the Liverpool job specifically he remarked: “There are world-class managers there already, but we’ll have to wait and see. It would be the icing on the cake. When you get to a certain age, my age, you need to start thinking seriously about a life after football.”

    Gerrard, 33, is hardly alone when it comes to planning a future following a playing career. And like many previous players, he has targeted management as a possible vocation.

    But some of his predecessors haven't fared too well after making the switch from the pitch to the technical area.

    Here are five former elite-level players for whom football management was anything but the perfect fit.

Paul Merson: Walsall

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    Incredibly, Paul Merson managed parts of three seasons at Walsallwho were in the old Division One when he was appointed in the spring of 2004—just a few months after checking himself into an Arizona clinic in an effort to curb a gambling addiction.

    Having signed on as a Saddlers player in 2003, he was thrust into the manager’s role following the axing of Colin Lee and promptly got the club relegated.

    Merson’s Walsall narrowly avoided another relegation in 2004-05, and after a 5-0 drubbing to Brentford in 2006 he was relieved of his duties.

    Of course, his managerial record hardly clouds what was a memorable playing career. In parts of 11 seasons at Arsenal he established himself as a club icon, winning a pair of First Division titles with the Gunners before the establishment of the Premier League.

Tony Adams: Wycombe Wanderers, Portsmouth, Gabala

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    After taking a year away from football following his retirement in 2002, Tony Adams accepted an appointment at Wycombe Wanderers in November 2003.

    But he was unemployed just a year later following relegation to League Two and a woeful start to the 2004-05 season.

    Having guided Wycombe to just 12 wins from 53 matches in all competitions, he was nevertheless named Portsmouth manager in October 2008 when Harry Redknapp left the South Coast for Tottenham. He lasted less than three months, however, and picked up only 10 points from 16 matches.

    In May 2010 Adams joined Azerbaijan side Gabala, with whom he posted a winning percentage of just under 39—the best of his managerial career.

    As a player, the hardy defender won four titles and three FA Cups with Arsenal and was capped 66 times by England.

John Barnes: Celtic, Jamaica, Tranmere Rovers

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    One of English football’s finest talents of his generation, John Barnes won two First Division titles and a pair of FA Cups with Liverpool and also scored 11 times for England in 79 appearances.

    But the former star winger and Jason McAteer were nicknamed “Dumb and Dumber” during a disastrous spell in management at Tranmere Rovers in 2009 that lasted just 11 matches.

    Ten years earlier Barnes had taken charge of Celtic, but after just 29 matches in all competitions—eight of them losses—he was relieved of his duties just eight months into the job.

    In 2008 he was appointed Jamaica manager but failed to guide the Caribbean nation into the 2010 World Cup.

Paul Gascoigne: Kettering Town

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    In the colourful, memorable and more-often-than-not heartbreaking career of Paul Gascoigne, a 39-day stint as Kettering Town boss is sometimes forgotten.

    By the time Gazza arrived at Rockingham Road in October 2005, he had gained some (but not much) experience as a player-coach at both Chinese side Gansu Tianma and League Two Boston United. His ambitions for Kettering included investment that would see him own up to one-third of the club.

    But he clashed with the Poppies’ owners—they claimed he was abusing alcohol, and he insisted they were meddling in his duties—and was sacked in early December.

    Thankfully, Gazza is most remembered for those early years at Newcastle and Tottenham when he wowed English football audiences on a weekly basis, as well as an England career that included 10 goals and those famous tears in 1990.

Diego Maradona: Mandiyu De Corrientes, Racing Club, Argentina, Al Wasl

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    It shouldn’t be surprising that the very best footballers naturally assume their on-field genius will translate to the technical area, although it rarely works out that way.

    A case in point is Diego Maradona, one of the game’s greatest players who won titles with Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli and the 1986 World Cup with Argentina.

    In January 1994, while his playing career was drawing to its slow, prolonged close amidst bans for cocaine use, El Diego and former Argentinos Juniors teammate Carlos Fren took charge of lowly Corrientes side Mandiyu, but at the end of the Clausura he left the club to attempt a comeback with Boca.

    A 1995 return to management with Racing ended after only 11 matches and two wins, but in November 2008 Maradona was given the reigns of an under-pressure Argentina side needing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

    Maradona got them into the competition and delivered 14 wins from 19 matches, although the brains behind the operation allegedly belonged to Sergio Batista. Following a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Germany in the quarterfinals, he left the post and a year later was appointed manager of United Arab Emirates side Al Wasl.

    In 2012 he took Al Wasl to the final of the Gulf Club Champions League but by the following summer was out of a job, having won just over 31 percent of his matches in charge.

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