Let’s be frank: it was a bit of a shock to hear that Man City icon Vincent Kompany is about to become player-manager of RSC Anderlecht in Belgium. Many expected Kompany to retire from the game completely after the FA Cup final, but it turns out the big man had something else in mind entirely.
Fair play to him for giving it a go – and for not following the well-trodden post-peak path to Chinese football or straight into a cushy pundit’s slot.
Well-spoken and clearly intelligent, Kompany has often seemed a cut above many others in his industry, and he’s only gone and impressed us again. But if the past is anything to go by, it’s going to be tough for him to succeed in his new role. It’s not often you see player-managers these days, and there’s a reason for that: it rarely works out.
If there’s a man who can do it, it’s Kompany, but as the seven lads below have proven, it’s not an easy gig.
Romario – Vasco da Gama
Aging party-boy, egomaniac and part-time politician put in charge of a massive club in Rio de Janeiro – what could possibly go wrong?
Back in 2007, the wee man (then 41) was given the helm at Vasco da Gama and, predictably, stuck himself up top without hesitation. He notched a few goals but was done for failing a drug test two months after taking the job. He claimed his pharmaceutical exploits were to stave off baldness and re-thicken his rapidly thinning mane, but no-one was fooled.
Thanks for your time, pal, and we wish you all the best with your future endeavours.
Attilio Lombardo – Crystal Palace
Lombardo probably could have used some of Romario’s mystery anti-baldness brew, but the Italian’s hair-free bonce never held him back as a footballer.
For some reason, he left Juventus to join Palace in 1997 and almost immediately became a hero at Selhurst Park. He was a class act and quickly wrote his name into legend in south London.
But when Lombardo shifted into the player-manager’s seat in the Eagles dugout, things didn’t go so well. For every bit of quality he had as a player, he seemed to lack as a manager. Within a season of him taking charge, Palace were relegated.
Mark Hateley – Hull City
This was long before the “Hull Tigers” days, when Hull were a fairly shocking outfit spending most of their time in the third and fourth tiers of the English football pyramid.
They’d faced several brushes with the dreaded “administration” before being bought in 1997 by future gym-magnate David Lloyd. Pretty much Lloyd’s first act was to appoint former Rangers and England hitman Mark Hateley as player-manager. It wasn’t a good idea.
In Hateley’s first campaign, Hull finished 17th. In his second, Lloyd sold the club, who were bottom of the Football League at the time, to a consortium who immediately sacked Hateley. This was a good idea – his replacement Warren Joyce led Hull out of the relegation zone to survival.
Gary McAllister – Coventry City
At the end of the 2001-02 season, Macca made the decision to depart Liverpool and sign up to take a player-manager role at Coventry City.
He lasted five months into the 2002-03 campaign, having delivered half a season comprised mostly of losses and utterly dreadful performances. Coventry had been relegated two years previously and were in dire straits, about to enter one of the darkest periods in their history.
So there may have been mitigating circumstances for McAllister, but he franked his managerial form a while later by leading Leeds United to an FA Cup exit at the hands of the mighty Histon.
Edgar Davids – Barnet
What a weird little episode this was. Hugely entertaining, of course – but weird nonetheless.
In 2012-13, Barnet were struggling and spent the early months of the season hovering around the foot of the League 2 table. Up stepped local resident Davids, who’d lived in north London since his days with Spurs in the mid-2000s.
Davids was playing a bit of ball for a Sunday league team in the area, but clearly felt he could work his magic at a higher level and agreed to take on a player-manager gig with the Bees. He was named Man of the Match on his debut, which also brought his side their first win in 12 league fixtures.
He played well during that first campaign and narrowly failed to keep Barnet up. Things went sour in 2013-14, however: Davids was sent off three times before the new year and resigned in January.
Stuart Pearce – Nottingham Forest
Things actually got off to a really good start for Pearce. He was the first Premier League Manager of the Month of 1997 despite having only been given the Forest job in December 1996. That January, they beat West Ham, Chelsea and Spurs in quick succession – with Pearce grabbing a goal against the Blues.
Sadly for the Trees legend, it didn’t last. He was out of the hotseat within two months with his team on an atrocious run. From January 29 to March 8, Forest’s form looked like this: L-L-D-W-L-L. The final straw for Pearce was a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, with Dave Bassett coming in from that point, though “Psycho” continued to play for the team.
It didn’t really help, with Forest ending up relegated in last place.
Nicolas Anelka – Mumbai
Who could possibly have guessed that Anelka, a man famous for arguing almost constantly with managers, would have turned out to be an abysmal player-manager?
Not the people in charge of Indian Super League outfit Mumbai City, clearly.
To be perfectly honest, we’re surprised Le Sulk managed to reach 14 matches in charge but, somehow, he did. Those games didn’t go particularly well, however. From 42 possible points, Anelka’s men earned a whopping 16.
Good job, Nick.