Does the Manager Truly Matter at the Top Level?
With their most recent draw in the books, Chelsea manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, stated on Wednesday evening that if his side draw to Cluj, he should return to Brazil.
If this is the case, and it very likely will be if the Blues do draw, it will mean the third manager for Chelsea in under a year and a half.
The question that will arise to most of Europe, if Scolari leaves, is; when will they find a manager that will stay?
I think a more appropriate question is: Does the management of Chelsea really matter to the teams success?
Well Does It?
I think both the long and the short answers to this are no. When you see the dramatic change that has occurred at Stamford Bridge in the last eighteen months, the evidence is one change away from being rock solid.
I would venture a guess that most people that support one of the big four teams in the Premier League don't consider what would happen if their teams manager were to leave in the middle of a season.
I think once you hit a certain number of talented players, the coaching becomes a secondary part of the picture to a certain extent.
I don't mean to say that Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, or Rafael Benitez do not have an influence on their teams. They do. However, a team of great players will still produce goals and demolish sides.
If the manager were removed, a few things would likely happen.
There would be turmoil among the players. If the gaffer was a liked man then the players would certainly be angry and voice an opposition. But the first thing to remember is, these are players above all else. I doubt Wayne Rooney would give up his pay check for Sir Alex.
There would likely be hardships in the dressing room. However sorting out a simple scuffle between the players usually falls to the team captain.
The second issue would lie with the fans. If Ferguson or Wenger were to be removed the fans would likely riot outside of Old Trafford or The Emirates, much the way they did during the manager rows earlier in the season. However, much like the players, they would get over it.
The realization that the manager might not have mattered as much would set in once their team started to win again.
I can remember listening to podcasts back when the switch came to appoint Avram Grant as manager at Chelsea last fall. The instant feedback was terrible. People were ready to tar and feather Grant at the drop of a goal. But by seasons end you would have thought that he turned water to wine.
The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, sure, the manager means a lot.
He is the public face for the team. He handles social functions, charity events, and other general team business. Then he shows up at the training pitch and tells the guys to run around and do their stretches. He runs them through a few drills and then goes home.
However, at the top levels of play, you are dealing with guys who have been playing since they could stand.
They know how to handle themselves with a ball. Much the way Peyton Manning dictates his hurry up offense in American Football. These players could dictate their own play and still come away with wins.
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