It’s not unusual for people to aspire to become a soccer manager one day. Whether it’s a former player who unfortunately had their career cut short due to a severe injury or a fan with a passion for the tactical side of the game, the chance to emulate modern-day heroes like Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola is entirely understandable. There are numerous ways you can get there, too.
Of course, any aspiring managers want to reach the very top, but it’s a tough business to succeed in, even if you manage at a relatively low level. A results-based, ruthless business, some of the shortest managerial reigns in English football seem harsh to many in the football community. It’s a highly volatile career choice, even for the likes of Manchester United legend Paul Scholes. But, should you manage to land your dream job after going through various steps to get there, be it coaching a junior side at a professional club or managing in the MLS one day, it can be a highly rewarding and – depending on what level you’re at – an all-round lucrative career choice. It isn’t an easy journey, though. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take to become a soccer manager one day.
What is the difference between a head coach and a manager?
First, before we go further, it’s worth gaining a clear understanding of the differences between a head coach and a manager – something we’re seeing an increasing amount of in modern-day football depending on the club and its specific setup. Essentially, a head coach deals with all on-field duties and is generally responsible for all first-team playing matters, such as improving the players they have at their disposal, picking the team, and keeping morale high in the group. The manager does all of those things but also takes care of off-field matters, such as player recruitment, contracts, scouting and a variety of other affairs which go on at a football club behind the scenes.
What qualifications do you need?
It’s important to stress that there is no set way of becoming a football manager. For some, qualifications define whether you’ll make it or not. For others, experience on the job is more important than anything else. Of course, acquiring an array of FA badges, be it the Level 3 (UEFA B) or Level 5 (UEDA Pro) certainly help, but not all managers get their teeth into the world of football through those types of qualifications, especially not to start with anyway. Those types of qualifications will need to be acquired on your journey to the top, but they don’t need to be completed all at once. Whether you’re coaching at a local university or aiming to make the most of a short experience at a local professional club, being involved in the day-to-day aspects of football management and coaching is a great way of learning about the role. For example, current Brighton manager Graham Potter has gone from coaching the Leeds Metropolitan University team to managing in arguably the biggest league in the world in a relatively short space of time, earning various qualifications along the way. Experience on the job is just as important.
Get coaching kids
A good route into coaching, in general, is by getting involved with a junior setup, be it in a local setting or at a professional club. You’ll need qualifications to do so, such as an FA Coaching Level 1 Badge, but it’s an excellent way to test your knowledge and gain a basic understanding of coaching footballers. Young players obviously can’t take on as much information as senior players, but drilling the basics of the game into them at such an early stage in their careers can help shape the way things go at a later stage. Developing good habits early on is vital, as famous academies like La Masia have proven. Other things you’ll need include good communication skills, extensive knowledge of the game, how to manage different personalities at different times, working with other professionals such as physiotherapists and nutritionists, and motiv