5 Goalkeeping Football Managers

After asking ‘why is there such a lack of goalkeepers in management?’, here’s a list of five goalkeepers trying to buck the trend:

1. Michel Preud’homme
Regardless of what position he played, Preud’homme deserves to be considered one of Europe’s top young managerial talents. The winner of the Yashin Award for being the best goalkeeper at the 1994 World Cup and UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year in the same year, didn’t make the most impressive of starts to his managerial career, but it was in second spell in charge of Standard Liege that things began to fall into place. He guided les Rouches to the Belgian 1st Division title in 2008, but possibly more impressive was guiding Gent to the Belgian Cup in 2010 and second in the league, playing some stylish football along the way. It was enough to earn him the job at Dutch champions, FC Twente and although only a few months into the job, he has his side right in the hunt to defend their title.

2. Bruce Arena
The lack of strength in the CONCACAF federation has always meant that FIFA’s rankings have painted a favourable picture of the USA, but it was under the guidance of Bruce Arena that they became a team worthy of such lofty top 10 rankings. Statistically the most successful manager in the history of the US National Team, Arena played in goal for Ivy league school, Cornell University and claimed a single cap for the USA in 1973. After a disappointing World Cup in 2006, he took over the New York Red Bulls before joining taking up his current position with LA Galaxy. After guiding the Galaxy to back to back MLS playoffs, his team have fallen short at the crucial moment, but such is Arena’s ability, it looks like a matter of when rather than if he adds to his two MLS league titles. Thanks largely to the influx of American owners in the Premier League, he’s regularly links to jobs in England and would be a very interesting appointment for anyone willing to take the risk.

3. Ricardo La Volpe
Possibly better known to European football fans for his amusing straight-talking interviews, Ricardo La Volpe has nonetheless earned many plaudits for his management ability in the Mexican Primera League. The Argentine won a World Cup winners medal when substitute goalkeeper for the famous 1978 victory, but not long after he left his homeland to play in Mexico. He remained there after hanging up his gloves and has spent the majority of the last three decades in various positions around the country. He led the national side to the 2006 World Cup and his team turned heads with some stylish play prior to narrowly being edged out by Argentina in the Last 16. He’s now in charge of Costa Rica and will have his sights firmly set on qualifying them for their first World Cup since the aforementioned 2006 event.

4. Philippe Montanier
As a goalkeeper, Montanier was a journeyman goalkeeper, bouncing around Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 for some of the 80s and all of the 90s. After bringing his playing days to a close, he had a brief foray into football administration as a director at Cannes. It was short-lived however and Montanier began serving something of an apprenticeship as assistant to Robert Nouzaret. Having teamed up with his former boss at Toulouse, he followed him to Bastia and the Ivory Coast national team before striking out on him own as manager of then Championnat National (the third and semi-pro tier of French football) outfit Boulonge. He guided them to a promotion to Ligue 2 and after more improvement, finally got them to the promised land of Ligue 1. It was a brief stay as they suffered an immediate relegation, but at that stage Montanier had moved on to manage Valenciennes. At present his management ability is being put to the test as they’re in the midst of a relegation battle, but given the size and budget of the club, survival would be considered a feather in his cap.

5. Walter Zenga
Wrapping up his career in the USA clearly gave Zenga a taste for travel as his first steps in management racked up the air-miles. First port of call was Bucharest where he managed Nacional Bucharest before taking the high pressure job a short distance down the road at Steaua. Winning a league title wasn’t enough to save his job in Romania and not long after he surfaced in Serbia as Red Star Belgrade. Zenga enhanced his reputation as hot managerial property by winning the league and he came to the attention of ambitious Turkish side, Gaziantepspor. His time there was brief and two quickfire stints with Al Ain in the UAE and Dinamo Bucharest followed before he got his chance with Silician side, Catania. His job was to save the team from relegation, a feat he achieved and was duly awarded a contract extension. He earned a good deal of praise in employing clever tactics whilst in charge of Catania and a comfortable mid-table finish saw a raw period of stability in Zenga’s managerial career. It didn’t last long however as Zenga took the controversial decision to leave Catania for local rivals, Palermo. His stint didn’t last long and after a disappointing start to the season, he fell foul of colourful club chairman, Maurizio Zamparini. Zenga is now trying to rebuild his reputation in the Middle East as manager of Al-Nasr.

Related links
Why is there such a lack of goalkeepers in management?

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