Why Big-Money Managers Are No Guarantee of Success

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2014

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Money can't buy you happiness, or so it's said. For The Beatles, it couldn't by them love and in football, it can't buy you success.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup has taught us many things this summer and a country's financial outlay on their players and manager, in particular, has shown it doesn't always mean victory will be forthcoming.

Take Russia, England and Italy, for example.

Fabio Capello, Roy Hodgson and Cesare Prandelli all failed to guide their teams to qualification from their groups in Brazil, yet the trio were the three highest-paid managers at the World Cup, according to a pre-tournament report by the Daily Mail.

It's a worrying statistic for the respective football associations, especially when considering Costa Rica not only topped Group D, but also have reached the quarter-finals.

Top 5 Highest Paid Managers at Brazil 2014
Fabio CapelloRussia£6,693,750
Roy HodgsonEngland£3,500,000
Cesare PrandelliItaly£2,575,000
Luiz Felipe ScolariBrazil£2,367,500
Ottmar HitzfeldSwitzerland£2,231,250
Daily Mail

Costa Rica haven't built their success on scrapping away for victories, either. They have done it in style, attacking opponents and thrilling crowds in the process.

They have played like a major football nation, belying their reputation as minnows.

Their manager, Jorge Luis Pinto, earns £262,500 a year—a figure roughly 26 times less than the £6.6 million Russia pay Capello.

Yet when we consider the return on their investment at this summer's World Cup alone, Costa Rica's far outstrips that of Russia and their group opponents Italy and England.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto of Costa Rica (L) hugs England manager Roy Hodgson during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Costa Rica and England at Estadio Mineirao on June 24, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Br
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

It makes a mockery of the notion that the higher a manager's salary, the more they will bring to a team.

There are a number of factors outside of the manager that impact success, especially on the international stage.

For a football club low on talent and in need of injecting some renewed impetus, the immediate response is to almost always splash out on new players.

And whether it's Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho or Burnley's Sean Dyche, the quality of personnel at a manager's disposal is always going to impact how far they can take a team.

Roberto Martinez demonstrated that point last season in the Premier League.

From being relegated with Wigan Athletic a year earlier, he was soon appointed Everton boss and the Toffees narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification with Martinez at the helm.

Sang Tan/Associated Press

Martinez was suddenly in a position that allowed him to put his theory into practice in a way he couldn't at Wigan, attracting players such as Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry to play vital roles in his team.

Put simply, more skilled personnel allowed the Spaniard to play better football.

On the international stage, it's somewhat more complicated. Transfer windows do not exist and if you're a manager like Hodgson, you have no other choice than to play Glen Johnson and Phil Jagielka in defence.

Doubling his salary ahead of the World Cup, tripling it even, wouldn't have made Hodgson's England any better.

Inflated salary or not, England's problems would have remained.

Indeed, the issues England faced in Brazil were a repeat of those that have haunted them for the past few decades: A failure to fully control games without wilting under the spotlight.

Owen Humphreys/Associated Press

In that time, The FA has paid vast sums to employ Sven Goran Eriksson and Capello, who have each failed to remedy the problem.

It leaves one conclusion: It's not just the manager, but the whole system of English football that is at fault for their continued failure at major tournaments.

Paying a manager millions of pounds a year for the privilege deflects attention away from the real problems, corrupting the minds of football fans into thinking success should be warranted by a salary.

On that reckoning, Russia and England would have been favourites to lift the World Cup in Brazil.

Based on the Daily Mail's report, quarter-finalists Belgium would have been rank outsiders given Marc Wilmots earns a meager £515,000 a year.

Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

Miguel Herrera was the lowest paid manager at the World Cup, picking up an annual salary of £125,000. On that basis, Mexico should never have qualified from Group A.

England lack a core group of world-class players who can win matches almost of their own volition.

Outside of Costa Rica, this year's World Cup quarter-finalists all have at least one stand-out candidate. For Brazil it's Neymar, the Netherlands have Arjen Robben and Belgium Eden Hazard.

Colombia's James Rodriguez has set the tournament alight, while France, Argentina and Germany boast Karim Benzema, Lionel Messi and Thomas Mueller, respectively.

England's hopes at their last three World Cups have been pinned on Wayne Rooney, a player who until recently had never scored on the world's biggest stage.

How does Hodgson's salary remedy that gulf in quality? It doesn't. If anything it brings the unrealistic expectation that it will, regardless.

Jon Super/Associated Press

So what does money bring for a manager, if not guaranteed success? Profile.

Returning to Capello and his salary as Russia's boss, his reputation in world football allows him to dictate his vast salary.

And with that pay day comes profile, of which Capello has a considerable one. Looking through the squad he selected to compete at Brazil 2014, it's arguably bigger than that of any of his players.

It's a dangerous method, making a manager bigger than the team he coaches. Expectations are inflated on the back of his presence without a proper appraisal of what he has at his disposal.

Did Russia, England and Italy underachieve at the World Cup? There's an argument to suggest Italy did, but for Capello and Hodgson, they probably finished on par.

Try telling that to their bank manager, though.


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