When Croatia condemned England to missing out on the 2008 European Championships by winning 3-2 at Wembley it wasn’t the tactics or the shambolic defending that occupied the attention of both the tabloid and the broadsheet newspapers in the following days post-mortem on the match.
Instead the main focus of attention was on a now iconic photograph of England coach Steve McClaren standing forlornly on the touch-line holding an umbrella in one hand and a cup of tea in the other.
This image was made all the more poignant by the fact that his opposite number, Slaven Bilic, had spent the whole game prowling the technical area decked out in a designer suit and diamond earstud whilst simultaneously shouting constant instructions to his players.
Anybody who still doubted that appearances were becoming integral to how a manager was judged surely had their doubts extinguished at that moment.
Scroll forward four years and the demeanour and style of the football coach are becoming more important than ever.
Arsenal’s fortunes now seem to be measured less by the points that they have gained than by an analysis of how Arsene Wenger looks from week to week.
Want to know how Real Madrid are faring? See if Jose Mourinho is in a scowling or playful mood with the press; and does anyone question that one of the main reasons that Jurgen Klinsmann was so warmly welcomed into the USA fold was that he projected a much better touch-line personality than the dour, and less media friendly, Bob Bradley?
Players too seem to need so much more interaction with the coach than in days gone by. It used to be routine for the man in charge to sit in the stands during the game, allowing him to form an overview of how his game plan was shaping up.
Now the vast majority of coaches sit (or more accurately stand) at pitch level where they can harangue the officials and interact with their players to an unprecedented degree.
How this improves their understanding of the action in front of them is difficult to comprehend but their role is no longer that of the impassive observer but active participant.
The increasing power of so-called “Directors of Football” may have taken much of the influence away from manager when it comes to selecting players, but it seems that those managers have channeled that lost power into another area entirely.
To put it in musical terms the manager of a soccer team may no longer be the composer of the squad that each club comprises, but he is very much the conductor; centre stage, influencing the tempo and the mood of those playing the tune and very much a part of the spectacle itself.
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