Euro 2020 Special

Diego Maradona to Gary Neville: Five Great Players Who Failed As Managers

Across Europe, there have been many players like Zinedine Zidane who have went on to manage great clubs successfully. 

The role of a manager in football is typically to handle the team’s selection process along with training the players and he is responsible for setting team formations, deciding team strategy and tactics. 

Motivating players is an important trait needed in a good manager. There are very few player-turned managers that have tasted success in their managerial career. But for the likes of Diego Maradona, the venture to lead a team has often ended in disappointment.

As another year of football draws to an end, let’s have a look at managers who shined as players but have failed as managers.



The former Manchester United legend and one of the best defenders of his generation after his retirement started as an assistant coach for the England National Team under Roy Hodgson. But despite his stellar reputation as a player, his managerial stint ended in a disaster.

He was appointed as the assistant manager in 2012 by Manager Roy Hodgson. With him as assistant coach, England failed to shine in the 2014 World Cup and were knocked out of the 2014 World Cup in the group stage. And they also have lost to Iceland at EURO 2016, which made things harder for Neville. 

In 2015, he took the reins of Valencia as head coach where he managed to lead the team for a handful of months. The disastrous performance of the squad in The Champions League has jeopardized his career in management. 

Valencia’s embarrassing loss 7-0 against Barcelona in Copa del Rey forced the team to replace the coach in March 2016. Since then, he has not taken any management role.



One of England’s best defenders and Arsenal ex-captain Tony Adams is well-known for winning two Premier League titles. But when it comes to management, he was a total failure.

After retiring from football at the end of the 2001-02 season, he took a year off before joining League One side Wycombe Wanderers in 2003 as head coach but the journey lasted only for a year. 

League One side Wycombe Wanderers were relegated to the lower division that season due to bad form, forcing him to resign. He then took a part-time trainee position with Feyenoord Rotterdam. 

Later, he joined Portsmouth as assistant manager to Harry Redknapp in 2006. He was subsequently appointed as the full-time manager after Harry Redknapp left, but he was sacked in 2009 after the team got only 10 points in 16 games. 

He even held the reins of Azerbaijani club Gabala FC for a brief period. In April 2017, he took charge of La Liga strugglers-Granada as head coach. However, he failed to shine again as Granada lost all seven games forcing him to step down.



Alan Shearer still holds the English Premier League record of all-time top goals scored with a total of 260 strikes and is lauded as a legend. Despite his charming game and reputation, he was unable to succeed as a manager.

After retirement in 2006, he took a break from football and was mum about joining any management position. But after three years in April 2009, he was appointed as Newcastle’s new manager. 

Despite promising to salvage Newcastle from relegation in the Premier League, Shearer’s promise failed as Newcastle suffered relegation to the EFL championship.

The Magpies lost their first match to Chelsea and that’s just the start of the downfall. They only won a single game and collected five points from a possible 24. As a result, Alan Shearer lost the job following season – ending his short managerial career.



Zola, with his personality and mercurial play, has won fans’ hearts. He has established himself as an efficient player while playing with both Parma and Chelsea. 

After retiring, he tested his managerial abilities. But unlike his previous career, this was a disaster.

In September 2008, Zola started his career as a manager with West Ham United. But his game expertise was not of much use for the squad as they narrowly escaped relegation in 2009-10 by finishing in ninth place, which resulted in the firing of Zola. 

He tried his luck again with the next club Watford, but the same fate followed. The Hornets have only won a single match out of 11. He has stepped down from the position eventually.

After Watford, he signed with Cagliari but was fired after three months as the team performed worse with just two wins out of 10. 

In 2016, he joined Birmingham City for the EFL Championship but was unable to produce results and resigned just three points from the relegation zone.

Gianfranco Zola took the role of assistant coach for Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri. But after the latter left Chelsea in the 2019 summer, the former resigned too.



Diego Maradona is a legend. He rallied Argentina to two World Cups and won the 1986 World Cup while playing finals in 1990. While he was part of Barcelona and Napoli, he won major trophies in Spain and Italy. His career as a manager was opposite to his football career. 

He initially handled two small Argentine clubs where he failed to show any improvement. Ignoring his previous stint, he took the reins of Argentina National Team manager in 2008. 

After winning the first three matches, Argentina lost to Bolivia 6-1. With only two games remaining in the qualification tournament for the 2010 World Cup, Argentina won the two qualifiers reaching the finals. 

With stellar players like Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez, whose play has helped Argentina but without tactical expertise, Argentina lost to Germany 4-0 in the quarterfinals.  After the World Cup, he stepped down from his role.




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