Euro 2020 Special

World Cup Managerial Casualties; The Price of Failure in Qatar

The price of failure at the World Cup for several managers at the World Cup has been the loss of their jobs. And others may quit by the end of the tournament, feeling that they have reached the end of their useful tie in charge of their countries.


Roberto Martinez stood down as Belgium manager the minute they failed to qualify from the group stage.

The Spaniard had been in charge of the country since 2016, and had steered them to a third place finish in Russia four years ago.

However, despite being ranked second in the world on the eve of the tournament, the squad was ageing, with the feeling that their so-called “Golden Generation” – players like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois – were past their best.

Unadvised comments by de Bruyne on the evening of the tournament only increased tensions in a dressing room that was beginning to fracture along traditional; linguistic and cultural lines between Flemish and French speakers.

The team was just not good enough, and players like Hazard have since announced their international retirement.


South Korea

The next man to quit his job was Paulo Bento. The 53 year old Portuguese had been in charge of South Koreas since 2018, but decided that it was time for somebody else to take up the challenge after they were thrashed in the round of 16 by Brazil.

Bento had an eventful World Cup and was sent off for his protests to referee Anthony Taylor after their defeat in the group stages to Ghana.



Spain began the World Cup in impressive style, thrashing Costa Rica by seven goals.

However, although they drew praise in that game for their ability to play without a conventional striker, once they encountered stiffer opposition that proved to be their undoing. Possession without end product is just sterile.

In their last 16 game against Morocco they completed three times as many passes as their opponents, but managed just six shots and only one of those was on target.

Before the match, manager Luis Enriqué had claimed that his side had practiced more than a thousand penalties in training. On the evidence of what they did in the shoot-out against Morocco that time was wasted, as they took three of the weakest spot-kicks seen in a major tournament.

Spain were highly successful playing the short passing brand of football known as Tiki-Taka, and which yielded them three major international trophies – a World Cup and two European Championships – in the space of eight years.

That, though, was a decade ago, and the world, and football, has moved on since then.

Spain under Enriqué did not shoot from outside the box, were not good at set pieces and lacked pace and physicality.

He leaves behind the nucleus of a very good squad with teenage talent like Gavi, Pedri and Ansu Fati – but the new manager will need to be braver in his approach.



Despite Germany failing to reach the knock-out stages, Hansi Flick has kept his job as manager, but their early exit has not been without consequences. Oliver Bierhoff has stood down as the country’s Sporting Director, and the German Football Association has promised a root and branch review as to what is wrong with German football after the country failed to get out of their group for a second successive World Cup.

Reasons for failure include the consistent inability of the country to produce top class strikers, the dominance of Bayern Munich in domestic competitions, an inability to defend properly at the back, and poor tactics.


Who might be next?

The list of managerial casualties might well grow before the tournament has ended.

Didier Deschamps is looking to steer France to a successful defence of the World Cup that they won in Russia four years ago, but this was almost certainly be his last international tournament. He has indicated that he wants to return to club football and Zinedine Zidane appears waiting in the wings to succeed him.

France play England in the quarter-finals, and, if England lose, that could be the last hurrah for Gareth Southgate. He is under contract until 2024, but may consider that he has taken the team as far as he can, given the intense pressure that goes with being England manager.




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