Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has become one of the Premier League’s most animated managers (Picture: Getty)
Ever had that feeling of being micromanaged? That your boss just won’t leave you alone to get on with your job?
It’s OK, this isn’t a cry for help, it’s a column about elite football, where the best players in the world are gathered together and absolutely not trusted to just get on with it.
From Mikel Arteta to Thomas Frank, Antonio Conte to Unai Emery, matchday management has become a world of performative gestures and empty epithets where even the vast technical areas of the modern stadium are not big enough to contain the genius of the coaches within.
Up and down the land managers pace up and down the touchline waving wildly. If Opta provided stats for top-flight bosses they’d likely find they cover more distance than some of their players.
Arteta is one of the liveliest offenders and has turned his team into the surprise package of the season. Coincidence or direct correlation? Would Arsenal still be top of the Premier League without their excitable Spanish manager jumping up and down every 30 seconds and constantly cuddling his full-backs? Wouldn’t you like to find out?
Antonio Conte micro-manages his Tottenham players from the sidelines (Pictures: Getty)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) and Man United boss Erik ten Hag orchestrate their teams in unison (Picture: Getty)
Across north London, Conte remains the kind of manager who surely leaves his wing-backs relishing the 45 minutes they spend on the far touchline in relative peace.
And yet the Spurs boss was serving a touchline ban for their crucial Champions League group tie in Marseille last November and somehow his side managed to stick to the usual storyline of being badly overrun for half an hour, going a goal down then rallying for a 2-1 win, which in this case sent them into the knockout stages. All achieved with their usually animated Italian boss confined to a seat in the gods.
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And, to give further credence to the feeling that his team might be able to cope just fine without hanging on his every bark, Tottenham went on to manage just one win in their next five games with Conte back on the sideline.
Passion has long been a feature of the sidelines, be it Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger squaring off, Jose Mourinho taking his trenchcoat for a celebratory sprint up the Old Trafford touchline or an over-bearing Jurgen Klopp bellowing at a fourth official from whispering range.
Brazil boss Tite and his subs celebrate with Richarlison at the World Cup (Picture: PA)
At the recent World Cup, it became obvious entertainment is no longer confined to the pitch or the stands, but the narrow strip of turf in between. No goal celebration was complete without the ecstatic addition of a dozen or so bib-wearing extras, the same substitutes also on hand to leap from the dug-out and protest furiously to the referee at any decision spuriously deemed to have gone against their team.
But it is the manager who controls this – and every other – realm of the modern game. As tactics and team shape have become increasingly complex and important in recent years there has been a sharp rise in the ostentatious orchestration of teams from the technical area.
Bill Shankly was a little less hands on than his modern counterparts (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty)
While past managerial greats like Brian Clough and Bill Shankly would assemble the best and brightest footballers and trust them to solve their own problems, their modern managerial counterparts are much more hands-on during games, some times quite literally.
These coaches and managers make a huge contribution to the standard of football in the Premier League and beyond but the players are still the ones we pay to sit back and watch. Perhaps their leaders could try doing the same.
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Up and down the land managers pace up and down the touchline waving wildly.