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The Most Loved Football Managers & What Makes A Great Manager

Being a football manager is a dicey game. In 2022/23 a record 13 Premier League managers lost their jobs, with a number of clubs working their way through three different managers throughout the campaign.

There’s no doubt it’s a stress-inducing profession. There’s the team to pick (and you know everyone on social media has an opinion about that), transfers to oversee, Prima donna players to deal with, the media to front up to, a footballing philosophy to define and 90-minutes of scrutiny on the touchline twice a week. And with the sack potentially looming after a string of bad results, it’s a tough gig to be in.

So, what makes a great football manager? We surveyed 1074 football fans from across the UK – that follow a cross-section of teams – to find out. And here’s what they said.

The traits that make a good football manager

We asked our football fans what the most desirable trait in a football manager was.

It’s all about experience

The majority of our fans – 60% of them – said that experience was the most desirable football manager trait.

Players respect a football manager who’s been there before and has the experience. They know that his tactics and training sessions are underpinned by his philosophy and have worked before. They’re safe in this knowledge.

This could be Pep Guardiola with the experience of winning the league season after season and his experience of claiming the Champions League crown. It could be the confidence players have in Big Sam performing one of his Premier League escape acts again or Neil Warnock using his knowledge of the Championship to keep a team safe or help them bag promotion to the topflight.

If a manager has done it before it breeds confidence that he can do it again.

This must also be backed up by some other top traits

Other important traits that make up a good football manager according to our fans, include:

  • Confidence – 57%
  • Ambition – 53%
  • Positivity – 52%
  • Honesty – 36%

The best attributes a football manager can bring to their team

A football manager should make a team perform as a team. Can he get a group of highly paid stars to function as one and make the team better than the sum of its parts? It’s a difficult job.

We asked our fans what they think are the attributes to do it.

We want to see a defined way of playing

The majority of fans (54%) wanted to see a manager that could bring an exciting or engaging playing style. As a football fan, you pay your money and you want to be entertained. Yes, scraping out a 1-0 win every week will do wonders for your position in the table, but you want to see style, substance and entertainment.

You want to see players that understand their role in the team and execute the defined way of playing on the pitch. This could be Pep’s inverted full-backs, Carlo Ancelotti’s quick breaks at Real Madrid or Roberto de Zerbi’s exciting fluid formation and well executed press at Brighton.

So, which managers do our football fans think have the most exciting or distinctive playing style? These are our top 5.

  • Pep Guardiola – 47%
  • Jürgen Klopp– 39%
  • Mikel Arteta – 22%
  • Erik ten Hag – 16%
  • Eddie Howe – 16%

It’s no surprise Pep is top of the list with his possession-based system and positional play tactics. It’s seen him dominate Europe at Barcelona, the Premier League at Manchester City and the Bundesliga at Bayern Munich. Most worryingly for opposition fans, it keeps evolving too – just look at the way John Stones has been asked to play this season!

The rock and roll style of Jürgen Klopp also makes the list, followed by the Pep-lite version offered by Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. As does the emerging style of Erik ten Hag at United and Eddie Howe at Newcastle.

The other attributes the fans want to see include an ability to attract the best talent (52%), promoting new and young players (52%), a track record of success (48%) and a distinctive football personality (41%).

The qualities no fans want to see

Football managers don’t get it right all the time, and they can be forgiven for that. After all not even Pep wins every match. But some qualities are unforgivable.

We asked our fans what the worst qualities in a manager were, and this is what they had to say. A slack attitude was the worst quality (at 57% of the vote), followed by being spineless (49%), unlikable (47%), over confident (45%) and easily discouraged (39%).

Managers might not always be to blame

If a team is performing badly, the manager gets the chop, but too often results on the pitch are down to systemic faults at all levels of the club. So, what do the fans think?

Interestingly, the fans think the players are most to blame for failures at the club – 33% of fans cited the players as the problem. This was followed by the owners (27%) and the managers (21%).

Maybe some owners and players need to take a long hard look at themselves?

Do managers have a responsibility to help make the world a better place?

Football can be a murky world. We all know it. There’s been FIFA corruption, the issues raised by the 2022 World Cup and state ownership of football clubs. Is this something that managers should speak out on?

We saw Gareth Southgate speak out at the World Cup, yet Eddie Howe is remaining tight lipped about Newcastle’s ownership. Yet what do the fans think?

Fans do want non-football issues to be discussed

We asked our football fans whether they agree that football managers have a responsibility to talk about wider issues and politics. Half of our fans (50%) agreed, while just 13% strongly disagreed.

So it does appear that fans want these issues to be discussed.

This is even more so amongst younger fans

In fact, 66% of those aged 18-24 and 25-35 strongly agreed with this statement and want non-football issues to be discussed by managers. For the older fans, 43% of over 55s strongly disagreed. It looks like we might have generational disagreement!

The team with the fans that agreed the most was Bournemouth (77%) followed by Arsenal (66%) and Aston Villa (60%).

Racism in football is the biggest issue we want our managers to highlight

We saw it at the end of May when Carlo Ancelotti backed Vinicius Junior about his racism claims in La Liga, and many football fans agree this is the way to go. Just under two thirds (62%) of our fans said managers should discuss racism in football.

This was followed by men’s mental health (57%), corruption in sport (46%), women in football (41%), LGBT representation in football (36%), and environmentalism and climate change (26%).

Do we listen to our football managers?

We also asked our fans whether or not they listen to football managers when they talk about non-football issues. For 42% they do, whereas 29% never listen at all.

Again, it’s younger fans that are more ready to listen, with 53% of 16-24s and 52% of 25-34 happy to listen to their manager discuss politics and wider issues. For the over 55s, 40% said they don’t listen at all and would prefer their managers to discuss the action on the pitch and the transfers off it.

Football managers as fashion icons: Yes or no?

Who could forget the hype around Gareth Southgate’s waistcoat at the 2018 World Cup? It was even a summer sell out at Burton! In years gone by we’ve had Ron Atkinson’s sunglasses and Brian Clough’s green jumper.

Today we’ve got Pep’s trainers and hoodie, Mikel Arteta’s half-zip jumper and Jesse Marsch’s jeggings. We also have the stylish suits of Italy manager Roberto Mancini.

So who do fans think are the most stylish managers? Top of the table for our football fans are:

  • Pep Guardiola – 29%
  • Gareth Southgate – 14%
  • Roberto Mancini – 11%
  • Mikel Arteta – 11%
  • Diego Simeone – 7%
  • Julian Nagelsmann – 4%
  • Simone Inzaghi – 4%

Interestingly, there’s no Big Sam or Roy Hodgson in the mix on the fashion front!

Bet on the managerial merry-go-round at BoyleSports

Football managers; many of us love them and others love to hate them. Yet we can all agree they’re under pressure and many are just a few games away from the sack, which makes for some great football betting interest.

If you want to wager on the next manager to rock up at Tottenham or who you think will be the first to be sacked next season, then you can take advantage of our football manager betting markets right here at BoyleSports.

Remember, always gamble responsibly. Here’s our Safer Gambling Guide.