Modern day football favours the brave. Clubs take risks as they look to get ahead of the competition. Nothing is guaranteed in football so taking a chance on a young, but potentially future world class, manager as opposed to a seasoned veteran, in some situations at least, can be no brainer for some owners.
Clubs who can’t compete with their rivals financially so look to do so tactically. Appointing a manager is now achieved in a similar manner to how a manager goes about identifying a potential signing. It’s about the philosophy and profile.
Some owners want solidity, some want possession-based football whereas others want an attacking approach. A manager must tick all of the boxes. It’s senseless to appoint a manager with, say, a Tony Pulis profile if the philosophy is to produce one-touch, free-flowing football. The vision from the boardroom to the dugout must align.
Something often overlooked by fans and in the media is how having an attractive style of attacking play can increase a club's global reach and, most importantly, for the directors at least, revenue streams – for example, an attractive side is likely to have more matches shown on live TV, especially for clubs in England.
Take Liverpool in the 2013/14 season: 28 of their 38 Premier League games were shown live on either Sky Sports or BT Sport, pocketing the Reds £21.9 million – £2.21 million more than Premier League winners Manchester City. Compare this to 2014/15 – when Liverpool earned £18.75 million – and the difference between the two seasons is basically what the club pay Philippe Coutinho each season with some change to spare.
So, there is an incentive there for clubs to want to play attractive football. It can be a way for the clubs who aren’t as flush to make up some financial ground on the ‘super rich'.
Football has changed dramatically over the last decade. Trends change at such a rapid pace that the most successful managers are those who perpetually evolve to keep pace. There may be a select few managers who have been at the top for years now but every single summer they’re upgrading a part of their team or tweaking their tactics slightly to keep them ahead of the curve.
It’s no longer just players who need to be versatile. This may be one of the driving forces behind more and more clubs turning to younger coaches in their quest for success.
Former England boss Roy Hodgson – who has been in management for 40 years – showed during his most recent spells in club management at Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion that his style is somewhat outdated in the modern game if you’re looking for anything other than solidity.
The age-old saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ rings true. As Hodgson's replacement in the Three Lions' hot seat, Sam Allardyce, found during his time in West Ham United, his ability to stabilise a club has its uses but if you have a chairman wanting to challenge for Europe, then the former Bolton Wanderers boss is unlikely to be the man to get the call.
Ever-demanding fans demand proactive managers. They want a leader capable of setting trends; those exposed to fluid, flexible and interchangeable systems but who have the ideas on how to evolve these systems.
Bundesliga clubs tend to press more than Spanish clubs so Pep Guardiola adapted his style at Bayern after coming up against the likes of Jurgen Klopp’s gegenpressing tactic. Guardiola didn’t just stick to the style that had proved so successful at Barcelona, instead evolving to press high like his rivals and trying to think of ways to nullify the press. It’s this sort of thinking that starts new trends.
While giving young managers a chance isn’t a groundbreaking idea, the fact that these young, hungry, innovative managers are getting chances at bigger clubs from an earlier age is.
Some of Europe's biggest clubs – Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Roma and Valencia – have taken calculated risks in appointing young, inexperienced managers. For the most part, the managers in question – the likes of Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte, for example – have delivered, despite their inexperience in the dugout.
Other examples include 29-year-old Julian Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim and when Mauricio Pochettino replaced Nigel Adkins at Southampton in 2013 – with both clubs teetering on the brink of relegation at the time. Many pundits called for an experienced head but these clubs went the opposite way and appointed men with little experience but with fresh ideas. Both clubs were rewarded with top-flight survival.
Not only are these appointments low risk, in theory at least, they also make business sense. These managers aren’t in a position to demand the kind of large salaries of, say, the currently out of work Louis van Gaal, and if they don’t work out then the chairman knows it will have cost them significantly less for the failed experiment. Managers only start to make the big money after they meet whatever the club determine as success. It’s clear why more clubs are favouring this approach in the managerial market.