insight

Second Team

While you can still only field 11 players on the pitch, there’s seemingly no limit to backroom-staff numbers. We check out the coaches

WORDS Simon Hart | ILLUSTRATION Rodrigo Fortes

“An unlikely, pokey little broom cupboard” is how the Guardian newspaper once described the famous Anfield boot room in which Bill Shankly began turning Liverpool into one of football’s biggest beasts. The memory of that tight space made legendary by Shankly’s brain trust came to mind in Madrid on 1 June last year when Jürgen Klopp and his UEFA Champions League-winning squad were joined on the dais by some 20 members of the Liverpool manager’s backroom team. Unlike mobile phones, the staff at football clubs just gets bigger and bigger.

Few men have witnessed this evolution quite like Mircea Lucescu, whose four-decade coaching career ended with Turkey’s national team last year. In the year it began, 1979, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough and his No 2 Peter Taylor could be seen sitting on a bench at the European Cup final beside two UEFA liaison officers and the Forest substitutes. Lucescu, 74, recalls something similar with his first club, Corvinual Hunedoara in Romania: “There weren’t a lot of us – me, my assistant coach and a goalkeeping coach.”

By the 1990s Lucescu was working in Italy, coaching Pisa, Brescia, Reggiana and Internazionale. He remembers doing all his own analysis. “I started to use videos for the first time in Italy and, at that time, I filmed training sessions. I also made profiles of players and analysed our opponents. Until then, we’d recorded all that on paper. That’s why I needed a TV specialist, who helped me a lot. So then it was the coach, the assistant coach, the fitness coach and the video specialists.”

And that was not the end of it. “Football became a little more globalised,” he adds.“ Then we started to need translators. Other needs cropped up, such as for specialists who organise the defence. Now there are specialists for set pieces, specialists organising the defence, specialists organising the attack.” Pep Guardiola, for instance, has brought both a full-time set-piece specialist and a set-piece analyst into Manchester City during the past 12 months.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso says that the game’s analytics revolution has brought the biggest change since his days as a Champions League-winning midfielder with AC Milan. “Twenty years ago we’d perhaps see 20 minutes of little clips,” he says. “But today there are cameras everywhere because we like to analyse the training sessions we do, not just the opponents. It’s become much more all-encompassing.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

“An unlikely, pokey little broom cupboard” is how the Guardian newspaper once described the famous Anfield boot room in which Bill Shankly began turning Liverpool into one of football’s biggest beasts. The memory of that tight space made legendary by Shankly’s brain trust came to mind in Madrid on 1 June last year when Jürgen Klopp and his UEFA Champions League-winning squad were joined on the dais by some 20 members of the Liverpool manager’s backroom team. Unlike mobile phones, the staff at football clubs just gets bigger and bigger.

Few men have witnessed this evolution quite like Mircea Lucescu, whose four-decade coaching career ended with Turkey’s national team last year. In the year it began, 1979, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough and his No 2 Peter Taylor could be seen sitting on a bench at the European Cup final beside two UEFA liaison officers and the Forest substitutes. Lucescu, 74, recalls something similar with his first club, Corvinual Hunedoara in Romania: “There weren’t a lot of us – me, my assistant coach and a goalkeeping coach.”

By the 1990s Lucescu was working in Italy, coaching Pisa, Brescia, Reggiana and Internazionale. He remembers doing all his own analysis. “I started to use videos for the first time in Italy and, at that time, I filmed training sessions. I also made profiles of players and analysed our opponents. Until then, we’d recorded all that on paper. That’s why I needed a TV specialist, who helped me a lot. So then it was the coach, the assistant coach, the fitness coach and the video specialists.”

And that was not the end of it. “Football became a little more globalised,” he adds.“ Then we started to need translators. Other needs cropped up, such as for specialists who organise the defence. Now there are specialists for set pieces, specialists organising the defence, specialists organising the attack.” Pep Guardiola, for instance, has brought both a full-time set-piece specialist and a set-piece analyst into Manchester City during the past 12 months.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso says that the game’s analytics revolution has brought the biggest change since his days as a Champions League-winning midfielder with AC Milan. “Twenty years ago we’d perhaps see 20 minutes of little clips,” he says. “But today there are cameras everywhere because we like to analyse the training sessions we do, not just the opponents. It’s become much more all-encompassing.”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

At 39, Diego Martínez is the youngest coach in Spain’s top flight with Granada. Including technical and medical experts, he works with a staff of 14. This is his other team – as important to him as the one on the pitch. “A coach is his coaching staff,” he says. “With a coaching team, as I’ve said many times, we’re all one. This is one of the best things for a coach – to work as a team – and when you’re all working in the same direction, it makes it better.” You only have to attend a Granada match to witness Martínez’s delegation skills as he sends Víctor Lafuente, his physical trainer, down the touchline to lead the substitutes through their warm-up. “I like the whole bench to live the game because ultimately we’re competing too,” he says.

That Martínez’s staff includes both an assistant coach and a goalkeeper coach who he met when coaching fourth-tier football with Arenas Armilla in his twenties emphasises the importance of trust in these relationships. Shankly’s view was “I want one thing – loyalty” and Carlo Ancelotti, a three-time UEFA Champions League-winning coach, writes something similar in his book Quiet Leadership: “I need to have that trust so that I can feel comfortable to delegate because I want to empower them and have them as involved as possible.”

For Ancelotti, it is not just technical expertise he seeks but a “cultural link” to his club – be it Ray Wilkins at Chelsea, Claude Makélélé at Paris Saint-Germain or Zinédine Zidane at Real Madrid. Today at Everton he has club legend Duncan Ferguson working alongside him.

Lucescu thinks that making the right backroom appointments is key and cites Sir Alex Ferguson’s ability to bring in the right people at the right time, while still retaining absolute control during his long reign at Manchester United. “Alex Ferguson didn’t really take part in training,” he says. “He left it to the assistant coach to carry out training, and he’d make the crucial decisions regarding the game development, the team, the organisation, the team selection.

“There’s a need for help as you can’t do absolutely everything yourself,” the Romanian adds. “However, I think that football remains a job for an individual. You can analyse and discuss – we know there’s a lot to do and say – but the decision lies with one individual only, so that person has to be very attentive to everything being done by those around him.” After all, for all the support these ever-increasing circles of specialists provide, the buck still stops with one person alone.

“An unlikely, pokey little broom cupboard” is how the Guardian newspaper once described the famous Anfield boot room in which Bill Shankly began turning Liverpool into one of football’s biggest beasts. The memory of that tight space made legendary by Shankly’s brain trust came to mind in Madrid on 1 June last year when Jürgen Klopp and his UEFA Champions League-winning squad were joined on the dais by some 20 members of the Liverpool manager’s backroom team. Unlike mobile phones, the staff at football clubs just gets bigger and bigger.

Few men have witnessed this evolution quite like Mircea Lucescu, whose four-decade coaching career ended with Turkey’s national team last year. In the year it began, 1979, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough and his No 2 Peter Taylor could be seen sitting on a bench at the European Cup final beside two UEFA liaison officers and the Forest substitutes. Lucescu, 74, recalls something similar with his first club, Corvinual Hunedoara in Romania: “There weren’t a lot of us – me, my assistant coach and a goalkeeping coach.”

By the 1990s Lucescu was working in Italy, coaching Pisa, Brescia, Reggiana and Internazionale. He remembers doing all his own analysis. “I started to use videos for the first time in Italy and, at that time, I filmed training sessions. I also made profiles of players and analysed our opponents. Until then, we’d recorded all that on paper. That’s why I needed a TV specialist, who helped me a lot. So then it was the coach, the assistant coach, the fitness coach and the video specialists.”

And that was not the end of it. “Football became a little more globalised,” he adds.“ Then we started to need translators. Other needs cropped up, such as for specialists who organise the defence. Now there are specialists for set pieces, specialists organising the defence, specialists organising the attack.” Pep Guardiola, for instance, has brought both a full-time set-piece specialist and a set-piece analyst into Manchester City during the past 12 months.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso says that the game’s analytics revolution has brought the biggest change since his days as a Champions League-winning midfielder with AC Milan. “Twenty years ago we’d perhaps see 20 minutes of little clips,” he says. “But today there are cameras everywhere because we like to analyse the training sessions we do, not just the opponents. It’s become much more all-encompassing.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

insight

Second Team

While you can still only field 11 players on the pitch, there’s seemingly no limit to backroom-staff numbers. We check out the coaches

WORDS Simon Hart | ILLUSTRATION Rodrigo Fortes

“An unlikely, pokey little broom cupboard” is how the Guardian newspaper once described the famous Anfield boot room in which Bill Shankly began turning Liverpool into one of football’s biggest beasts. The memory of that tight space made legendary by Shankly’s brain trust came to mind in Madrid on 1 June last year when Jürgen Klopp and his UEFA Champions League-winning squad were joined on the dais by some 20 members of the Liverpool manager’s backroom team. Unlike mobile phones, the staff at football clubs just gets bigger and bigger.

Few men have witnessed this evolution quite like Mircea Lucescu, whose four-decade coaching career ended with Turkey’s national team last year. In the year it began, 1979, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough and his No 2 Peter Taylor could be seen sitting on a bench at the European Cup final beside two UEFA liaison officers and the Forest substitutes. Lucescu, 74, recalls something similar with his first club, Corvinual Hunedoara in Romania: “There weren’t a lot of us – me, my assistant coach and a goalkeeping coach.”

By the 1990s Lucescu was working in Italy, coaching Pisa, Brescia, Reggiana and Internazionale. He remembers doing all his own analysis. “I started to use videos for the first time in Italy and, at that time, I filmed training sessions. I also made profiles of players and analysed our opponents. Until then, we’d recorded all that on paper. That’s why I needed a TV specialist, who helped me a lot. So then it was the coach, the assistant coach, the fitness coach and the video specialists.”

And that was not the end of it. “Football became a little more globalised,” he adds.“ Then we started to need translators. Other needs cropped up, such as for specialists who organise the defence. Now there are specialists for set pieces, specialists organising the defence, specialists organising the attack.” Pep Guardiola, for instance, has brought both a full-time set-piece specialist and a set-piece analyst into Manchester City during the past 12 months.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso says that the game’s analytics revolution has brought the biggest change since his days as a Champions League-winning midfielder with AC Milan. “Twenty years ago we’d perhaps see 20 minutes of little clips,” he says. “But today there are cameras everywhere because we like to analyse the training sessions we do, not just the opponents. It’s become much more all-encompassing.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

“An unlikely, pokey little broom cupboard” is how the Guardian newspaper once described the famous Anfield boot room in which Bill Shankly began turning Liverpool into one of football’s biggest beasts. The memory of that tight space made legendary by Shankly’s brain trust came to mind in Madrid on 1 June last year when Jürgen Klopp and his UEFA Champions League-winning squad were joined on the dais by some 20 members of the Liverpool manager’s backroom team. Unlike mobile phones, the staff at football clubs just gets bigger and bigger.

Few men have witnessed this evolution quite like Mircea Lucescu, whose four-decade coaching career ended with Turkey’s national team last year. In the year it began, 1979, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough and his No 2 Peter Taylor could be seen sitting on a bench at the European Cup final beside two UEFA liaison officers and the Forest substitutes. Lucescu, 74, recalls something similar with his first club, Corvinual Hunedoara in Romania: “There weren’t a lot of us – me, my assistant coach and a goalkeeping coach.”

By the 1990s Lucescu was working in Italy, coaching Pisa, Brescia, Reggiana and Internazionale. He remembers doing all his own analysis. “I started to use videos for the first time in Italy and, at that time, I filmed training sessions. I also made profiles of players and analysed our opponents. Until then, we’d recorded all that on paper. That’s why I needed a TV specialist, who helped me a lot. So then it was the coach, the assistant coach, the fitness coach and the video specialists.”

And that was not the end of it. “Football became a little more globalised,” he adds.“ Then we started to need translators. Other needs cropped up, such as for specialists who organise the defence. Now there are specialists for set pieces, specialists organising the defence, specialists organising the attack.” Pep Guardiola, for instance, has brought both a full-time set-piece specialist and a set-piece analyst into Manchester City during the past 12 months.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso says that the game’s analytics revolution has brought the biggest change since his days as a Champions League-winning midfielder with AC Milan. “Twenty years ago we’d perhaps see 20 minutes of little clips,” he says. “But today there are cameras everywhere because we like to analyse the training sessions we do, not just the opponents. It’s become much more all-encompassing.”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

At 39, Diego Martínez is the youngest coach in Spain’s top flight with Granada. Including technical and medical experts, he works with a staff of 14. This is his other team – as important to him as the one on the pitch. “A coach is his coaching staff,” he says. “With a coaching team, as I’ve said many times, we’re all one. This is one of the best things for a coach – to work as a team – and when you’re all working in the same direction, it makes it better.” You only have to attend a Granada match to witness Martínez’s delegation skills as he sends Víctor Lafuente, his physical trainer, down the touchline to lead the substitutes through their warm-up. “I like the whole bench to live the game because ultimately we’re competing too,” he says.

That Martínez’s staff includes both an assistant coach and a goalkeeper coach who he met when coaching fourth-tier football with Arenas Armilla in his twenties emphasises the importance of trust in these relationships. Shankly’s view was “I want one thing – loyalty” and Carlo Ancelotti, a three-time UEFA Champions League-winning coach, writes something similar in his book Quiet Leadership: “I need to have that trust so that I can feel comfortable to delegate because I want to empower them and have them as involved as possible.”

For Ancelotti, it is not just technical expertise he seeks but a “cultural link” to his club – be it Ray Wilkins at Chelsea, Claude Makélélé at Paris Saint-Germain or Zinédine Zidane at Real Madrid. Today at Everton he has club legend Duncan Ferguson working alongside him.

Lucescu thinks that making the right backroom appointments is key and cites Sir Alex Ferguson’s ability to bring in the right people at the right time, while still retaining absolute control during his long reign at Manchester United. “Alex Ferguson didn’t really take part in training,” he says. “He left it to the assistant coach to carry out training, and he’d make the crucial decisions regarding the game development, the team, the organisation, the team selection.

“There’s a need for help as you can’t do absolutely everything yourself,” the Romanian adds. “However, I think that football remains a job for an individual. You can analyse and discuss – we know there’s a lot to do and say – but the decision lies with one individual only, so that person has to be very attentive to everything being done by those around him.” After all, for all the support these ever-increasing circles of specialists provide, the buck still stops with one person alone.

“An unlikely, pokey little broom cupboard” is how the Guardian newspaper once described the famous Anfield boot room in which Bill Shankly began turning Liverpool into one of football’s biggest beasts. The memory of that tight space made legendary by Shankly’s brain trust came to mind in Madrid on 1 June last year when Jürgen Klopp and his UEFA Champions League-winning squad were joined on the dais by some 20 members of the Liverpool manager’s backroom team. Unlike mobile phones, the staff at football clubs just gets bigger and bigger.

Few men have witnessed this evolution quite like Mircea Lucescu, whose four-decade coaching career ended with Turkey’s national team last year. In the year it began, 1979, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough and his No 2 Peter Taylor could be seen sitting on a bench at the European Cup final beside two UEFA liaison officers and the Forest substitutes. Lucescu, 74, recalls something similar with his first club, Corvinual Hunedoara in Romania: “There weren’t a lot of us – me, my assistant coach and a goalkeeping coach.”

By the 1990s Lucescu was working in Italy, coaching Pisa, Brescia, Reggiana and Internazionale. He remembers doing all his own analysis. “I started to use videos for the first time in Italy and, at that time, I filmed training sessions. I also made profiles of players and analysed our opponents. Until then, we’d recorded all that on paper. That’s why I needed a TV specialist, who helped me a lot. So then it was the coach, the assistant coach, the fitness coach and the video specialists.”

And that was not the end of it. “Football became a little more globalised,” he adds.“ Then we started to need translators. Other needs cropped up, such as for specialists who organise the defence. Now there are specialists for set pieces, specialists organising the defence, specialists organising the attack.” Pep Guardiola, for instance, has brought both a full-time set-piece specialist and a set-piece analyst into Manchester City during the past 12 months.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso says that the game’s analytics revolution has brought the biggest change since his days as a Champions League-winning midfielder with AC Milan. “Twenty years ago we’d perhaps see 20 minutes of little clips,” he says. “But today there are cameras everywhere because we like to analyse the training sessions we do, not just the opponents. It’s become much more all-encompassing.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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