The title of head coach has become fashionable in the last few years, but it’s an unnecessary trend just like platform trainers. With Newcastle recently appointing John Carver in the role until the end of the season after failing to find a replacement for Alan Pardew, Rebecca Coles compares the job with the traditional managerial position.
The Premier League currently consists of four head coaches – Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino, Tony Pulis of West Brom, Sunderland’s Gus Poyet and Carver. He’s now had a month to show what he can do for the Magpies, with a top-ten finish still understood to be the target.
But with Tim Sherwood, Steve Bruce, Remi Garde and Christophe Galtier all unwilling to take the job mid-season, it has left many Newcastle fans questioning why no one but Carver wanted the job full-time. Perhaps it’s because working with owner Mike Ashley isn’t a walk in the park but I wonder if the head coach title has put off potential candidates?
There are key differences between the roles. A manager has complete control over his staff, transfers and player contracts unless, of course, they’re working under a meddling owner. While a head coach just trains and picks the team, with the owner or director of football taking the pressure off them by dealing with the rest.
Pochettino has explained: “If you are the manager, you decide many things about the club. But if you are a head coach, your responsibility is to play better, try to improve the players and to get positive results.
“At Southampton, I was a manager. My responsibility was not only to coach the team. With Tottenham, I am a head coach. A head coach is head of your department. My department is to train the team.”
A head coach benefits from being able to concentrate solely on the team but the downside is, when results don’t go their way, they can turn the tables and protest, “Well, I didn’t sign these players and I didn’t have the right backroom staff.”
Former Black Cats head coach Paolo Di Canio proved this as he blamed everyone but himself for their struggles when he got sacked after just 13 games in charge in September 2013.
He insisted: “Not one of those [players] was bought by me. Roberto De Fanti and Valentino Angeloni were the two responsible for that technical error, with the maximum support from the chairman, which is Ellis Short. But I didn’t bring in one player. I asked for them to bring in 80 per cent British footballers.”
So is the head coach title really worth the cost of the advertisement in place of the standard manager’s job? Not for me. The attributes required to be a successful manager are reckoned to be the same as a head coach. They need to have effective and adaptable training methods, be tactically astute, boast good judgment in team selections and formations. Behind the scenes, however, it’s a very different story.
Head coaches lack so much involvement and authority, they never seem to last long in the role. Look at the sack race in recent years, it’s been dominated by head coaches losing their jobs. Steve Clarke, Di Canio, Felix Magath, Rene Meulensteen, Pepe Mel, Alan Irvine and Andre Villas-Boas have all fallen foul of the head coach curse. Those sackings are proof it’s time to scrap the head coach role and stick with what the game does best: old-school managers like Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp.
Do you think the title of head coach puts off potential managerial candidates? Are the same skill required for both positions?
Read more from Rebecca Coles here!