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The Deflectors; The premier league’s perfect managers

There are smart ways to deflect and divert attention from one's self. Sometimes, however, it is classier to own up to mistakes and admit the flaws in one's plans. Maintaining a facade of perfection is not an endearing trait and leads to unfavorable responses. For some coaches, their trophy cabinets give them a bit of leeway in navigating the treacherous waters of football management. For others. there is still so much to prove before people begin accepting that the fault is very rarely theirs.

We take a look at managers who channel their frustration by pushing the blame to a number of factors. From blaming scheduling to claiming their team was better, these managers feign perfection.

Jurgen Klopp

The inclusion of this first manager is sure to irk some fans, but Klopp has deflected blame a fair few times in his career. To Klopp’s credit, he always protects his players and directs his frustration elsewhere. His spat with BT Sport’s Des Kelly about the congested schedule was particularly interesting, and Klopp showed once again that he could be very sore when results do not go his way.

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Credit: Liverpool FC

Many times in the past, Klopp has cut a disgruntled figure and picked the most trivial of excuses to protect his team. Just a season ago, Klopp criticized Diego Simeone’s Athletico Madrid team for failing to open up. Yes, it is mightily frustrating to come up against such a resolute defense but that is Simeone’s stamp, and football has always been a battle of styles. Why impose yours on another?

Somehow we are to believe that Liverpool’s loss was not because they failed to breakdown a solid defense? I think not. Klopp is a fantastic manager and will go down as one of the greatest coaches of this generation, but his whining is far from ideal for someone who wins so many matches.

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Mikel Arteta

Arsenal recently defeated Chelsea in their boxing day clash. It was a much-improved performance with some flourishes of luck against a lackluster Chelsea side. The penalty was a very questionable call, Xhaka channeled his inner Roberto Carlos, and Saka had his cross find the back of the net. Arsenal may well have used all their lucky charms and deservedly won.

Arteta, despite outsmarting Lampard on the night, has also been quite naive in his defense of himself. His reading of statistics in his press conference was bizarre. Arsenal had been playing so poorly for a long time and Arteta was rattling statistics that would paint a better picture? He had been hailed as the new Pep for so long that people forgot that his major successes came as a result of playing counter-attacking football. A far cry from the football his former boss was known for.

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Arteta’s Arsenal problems are far from over but steering clear off statistics would be a good gamble. Credit: Sports Illustrated

His record against the traditional big six is proof of this. Like Tottenham, Arsenal is not adept at breaking teams down, yet the coach seems oblivious of this. The result against Chelsea may be a turning point, but it may also just be a fluke. If Arsenal continues this see-saw of results, Arteta needs to find a better way of projecting himself than turning into a statistician.

Jose Mourinho

Mourinho is a manager who is no stranger to deflecting blame from himself. On countless occasions, Mourinho has shielded himself and placed the blame squarely at the feet of his players. His famous interview after a loss to Newcastle during his time at Chelsea epitomizes a manager who will never accept blame. “I made 11 mistakes”, were the words of a man who was yet to win at St. James’ Park in 2013.

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Mourinho has no qualms throwing his players under the bus and Delle Ali has been an unfortunate victim of this blame game. Admittedly, on a steep decline, the once mercurial talent has borne the brunt of Mourinho’s frustration so many times. One can only wonder if he would be staying much longer at White Hart Lane.

Mourinho’s proclivity for blaming a host of factors can be charming for the fans of the teams he coaches and ridiculous for anyone else. Saying for instance, that Tottenham was the better team when they played against Liverpool was outrageous. If you are going to play an overly defensive game, you need to own up to it when it backfires. On the back of the result against Wolves, Mourinho would need to quickly change that setup or be ready to take full responsibility when it eventually collapses.

Frank Lampard

A manager who has come under fire recently for his remarks is Chelsea’s Frank Lampard. Frank did a good job in his first season; making it into the top four and narrowly missing out on third place. There may be an assumption that his inclusion here is based solely on his recent remarks about his players taking responsibility for the loss against struggling Arsenal.

Though that is certainly a reason for it and will be addressed, his knack for shifting blame is more than a one-time event. In an interview on the high-performance podcast, Frank made it clear that taking responsibility was a huge part of his job. Apparently Frank is not very aware of what this means because as evidenced in his recent rant about his players’ performance, taking responsibility for him seems to be stating he can take responsibility and subsequently shifting the blame.

Credit: Goal

Time and again, Frank has been caught saying that the players were not good enough and the system was not the problem. Before or after saying this, he claims to take full responsibility. Sorry Frank, but that is never viewed in a good light.

Chelsea has become very one dimensional in attack and relies too heavily on the flanks. Despite the quality possessed in midfield, the players seem to have been instructed to direct the balls to the wingers and fullbacks, who then have the responsibility of crossing the ball. Runs in behind defenses are constantly ignored to accommodate this one-dimensional play. This is an issue from the manager, and while the players have a part to play, they are seldom the only problem. There seems to be a trend of repeatedly making similar mistakes and blaming player performance, and this Mourinho-like characteristic needs to be scrapped by Frank.

 

Our take?

There are smart ways to deflect and divert attention from one’s self. Sometimes, however, it is classier to own up to mistakes and admit the flaws in one’s plans. Maintaining a facade of perfection is not an endearing trait and leads to unfavorable responses. For some managers like Klopp and Mourinho, their trophy cabinets give them a bit of leeway in navigating the treacherous waters of football management in the Premier League. For the younger coaches in Lampard and Arteta, there is still so much to prove before people begin accepting that the fault is very rarely theirs.

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