Eric Wynalda sat down to talk with The Big Lead and, as is usually the case when he speaks, he said something controversial. This time, he said that only former players should be managers, and that only Americans think that people who didn't play at a high level can properly manage a team. Seriously.
"I’ll pick on (former U.S. National Team coach) Bob Bradley. I know Bob. I played for Bob. Some of these guys have never had soccer shoes on in a locker room that matters," Wynalda said. "There’s a thought you wouldn’t have to play at a high level to be a good coach. That’s an American thing. Sure, (two-time Champions League winner) Jose Mourinho went from translator to manager. That’s different. He is a special person, but it’s created a belief it’s possible."
Wynalda does mention that Mourinho has been rather successful as a manager despite never playing at a high level, but he failed to mention Arrigo Sacchi and Carlos Alberto Parreira. The former happened to win consecutive European Cups -- and is the last manager to do so -- and the latter won the 1994 World Cup, feats they somehow accomplished despite never playing at a high level. Andre Villas-Boas, Rafa Benitez, Brendan Rodgers, Gerard Houllier and Ralf Ragnick also fall on the abbreviated list of managers who have done just fine without having played at the highest level as well.
But managers can't succeed without having played, and Mourinho is the exception. Also, as you can see, this is "an American thing."
Most amusingly, Wynalda picks on Bob Bradley, a man who won a MLS Cup and a Gold Cup, while also leading the U.S. to their first World Cup group win in 80 years. That, apparently, does not make Bradley as qualified as a former player. Maybe a former player like Wynalda, who has not managed anywhere of note and whose entire list of "being in a locker room that matters" is a season in the Bundesliga where his team was relegated and four World Cups, where his teams didn't manage a single point off of American soil.
Maybe Wynalda will get to be a manager one day, and maybe he will be good, but I wouldn't bet on his being successful, even if he was a player. It has nothing to do with how outspoken he is either. It has to do with what he says -- thoughts and opinions derived from this warped view of the soccer world that he sees, where only Mourinho succeeded without playing. Or maybe ignoring facts and bowing at the feet of the former player just isn't "an American thing."