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How did the player become bigger than the manager?

Sunday 27th January 2019

Football isn't what it once was. Many players hold more power than the manager, if you listen to some, to the extent they determine who stays at the club and who doesn’t. It is now more than the game as there is more to be seen behind the scene that now come to manifest on the field of play. In the past, there was the occasional player who held such power. Alfredo di Stefano at Real Madrid was one. You can understandand Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi beign able to write their own ticket but it seems every big club has a player calling the shots these days, if not two or three.

Through their galactico project, Real Madrid evolved a system whereby senior players, especially the home grown, have a say in managerial hires and player signings. Barcelona allegedly signed Tata Martino as their manager in 2013 because he was Messi's preferred choice ahead of Luis Enrique who eventually joined the club after Martino was sacked a year later. These are the more obvious ones that come out in public. It's the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring that can affect results. When players lay down tools it doesn't flatter the game.

Chelsea [the second time] and Manchester United sacked Jose Mourinho when he feuded with players in the squad. At Chelsea, it was David Luiz, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard. At United, Paul Pogba was his chief adversary but he also had rows with Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw. Gone are the days of Sir Alex Ferguson when players never achieved higher status than the manager, not even David Beckham.

It isn't that managers are perfect or don’t deserve to be sacked when they fail to get results. It's their job, after all, to make players more productive. The question is how he's supposed to do that when the board is intervening on the player's behalf? Part of the problem is that some players, Pogba, Ronaldo and Messi especially, bring such strong individual brands to their clubs that they have the leverage to make such demands..

Jose Mourinho laid some insight into this with his interview with BeIn Sport when he said he will ensure his next employer's structure and ambition are clear before he begins the project. So much for that gag order, eh Manchester United?

Ideally, a team should have its squad playing for the shirt, if not the manager. If the side is putting forth an effort and the results aren't there, the manager is obviously at fault. These days, every time a group of players doesn’t want a manager, there is a drop in performance. Then it peaks again when a new man comes to the club. What makes the game what it is today is the legacy set down by the legends like Sirs Bobby Robson and Alex Ferguson who laid the foundation for future coaches to be able to shape a club. We need the good old days back again.

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Aje Omolayo

I like to think of myself as an easy going lover of all things football, however, I do class myself as a die-hard Arsenal fan but I'm not biased enough to view life at the Emirates through rose-tinted spectacles and can appreciate when we are beaten by the better team on the day.

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