Now that the World Cup qualifying campaign is at an end, we’re seeing the predictable game of managerial musical chairs being played out.
Chris Coleman and Michael O’Neill are being linked with new jobs for both clubs and countries, while it is rumoured that Gordon Strachan wanders the land dressed in rags, knocking on the door of any football ground he encounters and asking for any work that’s going, however menial it might be.
But I know that you’re all craving to find out if it’s more worthwhile to manage at club or international level, right? That’s why I’ve used science and my mind to put together this helpful guide to the pros and cons of both…
If you’re at a massive club, they’ll expect you to win everything. At a middling club, they want more, more, more. At a lower league club, they’ll be hoping for anything above you not bankrupting the place. Nowhere you go will the fans say ‘we’ll be quite content with being a bit shit all the time’.
At national level, the demands are similar but there’s more of a relaxed, slow-burn kind of vibe in the background. For example, Scotland fans don’t genuinely think they’ll ever reach the finals of another tournament and Gordon Strachan delivered beautifully for them
CLUB – 6
COUNTRY – 8
Club managers needn’t bother forking out for a fancy brass nameplate for their office door – they’ll soon find it being unscrewed by an uncomfortable-looking jobsworth as they trudge out of the door for the final time, cradling a cardboard box full of knick-knacks and an unwashed wine glass that Jose Mourinho once drank out of (a weird keep, that).
For the national boss, unless you fuck things up massively or are discovered to have once had sex with a penalty spot, you’re looking at a minimum of two years in your job – the kind of tenure that your league-based colleagues would happily cough up a lung for.
CLUB – 4
COUNTRY – 7
GETTING TO SIT ABOUT ON YOUR ARSE
If you’re not on a plane, you’re sitting by a pool, probably. Can you imagine Sam Allardyce as the USA national manager? Long weekends in Florida, ‘fact-finding’ missions in Nashville country music clubs and getting together with snotty little dickheads called Chet and Cody once every six weeks as he tries to teach them how to defend a near post corner. The. Actual. Dream.
Meanwhile, the club boss never gets to sit about on his arse, although his dream is to lie down in a darkened room for a month.
CLUB – 5
COUNTRY – 8
The average club manager prays for a job at a club where flying to away games is affordable. Otherwise it’s coach travel all the way and maybe the Megabus in League Two. It’s no fun at all – hell, even Arsenal went to Stoke on a train once.
For the national manager, globetrotting is part of the job description, even if it means bollock-shatteringly cold Thursday night World Cup qualifying matches in Slovenia and Turkmenistan.
CLUB – 6
COUNTRY – 6
Managing a club is a hellish existence. The fans might like you for a while, but it’ll only be for a short while, and if you don’t put in a shift of at least 20 hours a day, you’ll be toast within a matter of weeks. The only telly shows you’ll ever get to see are playbacks of your own team’s matches while you’re pointing out their string of idiotic mistakes to them on a Monday morning.
As for the national manager, he’ll start the day with The Jeremy Kyle Show while he’s pretending to be working, powering on through with Homes Under The Hammer, Bargain Hunt and Come Dine With Me before topping up the brain cells with ten minutes of Countdown and then a well-earned nap before Tipping Point starts. (None of this schedule is influenced by my own freelancing habits, oh no, no way.)
CLUB – 3
COUNTRY – 9
CLUB – 24
COUNTRY – 38
So there it is – managing a country is way easier than toiling away at club level… AND you get to go to the World Cup if you do it right. It’s also far less stressful – I mean, just look at how chilled the Algerian manager Rabah Madjer is here, earlier in the week…