We can’t say we’re surprised to read that Mark & Spencers are running out of the garment that has come to define Gareth Southgate’s elevation to official National Treasure status as he leads England in Russia.
Reaction has been so overwhelming to England’s progress that the retailer has seen stocks of the garment plummet, fans of the Three Lions eager to welcome football back home in style.
What says leadership more in 2018 than the elegantly embroidered torso of the England gaffer as he gently cajoles confident performances from his charges who were so unfancied pre-tournament?
We may have to offer odds on him being next Prime Minister if things keep going this way.
Southgate sartorial sense got us thinking about some other touchline trend-setters and how their clobber slobber-knocked the block off any dedicated followers of fashion in Paris, Rome or New York.
Herve Renard’s White Shirt
The Moroccan coach cut a striking swathe through the ranks of be-suited bosses on the benches of Russia 2018 with his pristine, pearl-white shirt, open collared and looking stiffer than a Vladimir Putin handshake.
The Frenchman announced himself to the footballing world – or all outside of Cambridge United at least – resplendent in his now trademark look in the African Cup of Nations in 2012, where he led an unlikely Zambian side to the trophy and striking a pose that imprinted his image on all who saw that side’s triumph.
Spurning a career as Jaime Lannister’s stunt double, Renard has since managed the Ivory Coast, as well as Sochaux and Lille in France, before taking charge of Morocco, but we reckon he’s missing his calling as the guy who looks away wistfully into the middle-distance in some perfume ads at Christmas.
Pep Guardiola’s Turtleneck sweater
And obvious choice perhaps, but classic style is timeless. As with Southgate’s waistcoat, the City manager’s lithe figure is crucial to the aesthetic impact of this entry. This look, like so much else in the modern game, is not one for anyone who can add “Big” to their name and be immediately recognisable (sorry Sam).
When Guardiola came to the Premier League first, many doubted that his style of football would prove effective in such a physically demanding, competitive league, but, just like his signature sweater, his Sky Blues side weaved together to produce work of immaculate quality, playing in a fashion as smooth as it is pleasant to watch.
Surely a large amount of responsibility for the effect Pep has had on his team is down to the coolly efficient air his turtleneck wearing exudes at all times?
Like an architect on Grand Designs who convinces his client that they really need those nine ton bespoke glass windows from Switzerland, Guardiola derives his air of authority from his ability to pull off what is, basically, a ridiculous piece of clothing.
Ricardo Lavolpe’s Cigarettes
Now, smoking’s not big or clever, right, but we think there is an undeniable cachet to the Manager Who Has A Smoke During The Game.
While there are many notorious examples of pitch-side puffers – Johan Cruyff, Cesar Luis Menotti and Zdenek Zeman all spring to mind – former Mexico manager Ricardo Lavolpe has earned the right to be included here above the others because he combines his compulsion for nicotine consumption with the chic sensibility of a one-episode scene-stealer from early Seinfeld.
The Argentine World Cup winning goalkeeper in 1978, Lavolpe has enjoyed a widely-travelled career as a manager, though staked his fashionista claim to fame in 2006’s World Cup, where his Mexican side dazzled with their speedy attacking play, but failed to cut opponents down to size when it mattered.
Lavolpe was censured during the tournament for openly chain-smoking on camera as his team opened their German campaign with a 3-1 win over Iran, to which he responded that he “would rather give up football than smoking.”
A willingness to blow smoke in the face of authorities is surely an advantage as a manager.
Malcolm Allison’s Sheepskin coat
The sheer chutzpah it takes to pull of this look ought to have been enough to inspire his Man City and Crystal Palace sides of the late sixties and seventies to European domination.
With Allison as coach, Man City won the league title in 1968 having been 200-1 outsiders at the start of the season, but were overshadowed by their red neighbour’s European Cup triumph. The side would go on to win an FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners Cup in subsequent years, but his managerial partnership with Joe Mercer fell apart, and Allison found himself in London with Crystal Palace, where his talent as football coach and innovator was dwarfed by his showbiz bravado and tabloid splashes.
Needless to say, Allison looked like a big time boss even as his Palace sides struggled. He redefined the club, bringing in their now famous red and blue striped kits and changing their nickname to the Eagles from the Glaziers (isn’t that United’s now?) and left an impression on the English game that out-lived the club’s results under his reign.
It’s easy to pull off a pose when you’re team’s great, but when they’re stinking it up is when dedication to style really shines through, so Big Mal gets a hat tip from us for his swag.