Gianluca Vialli, the last big player-manager in football – can Kompany last longer?


Vincent Kompany is taking Manchester City academy coach Simon Davies to Anderlecht, and on paper the Welshman will be the T1. But in practice, it is Kompany who will be calling the shots. Davies will form part of a six-man coaching staff that will support Kompany in the outgoing City captain’s first managerial job.

Vincent Kompany is leaving Manchester City after 11 years to take charge at his boyhood club. Arsene transformed the entirety of English football but nowadays everyone is waxing lyrical about Guardiola. The type of football Guardiola brought to Man City is what Kompany aims to replicate at Anderlecht. Kompany said the following about his (ex-)coach at City:

“It got me thinking. The end of this season couldn’t be more memorable. I have lived the dream here. I have learned so much the last 3 years. From an incredible manager. Pep Guardiola reignited my love for the game. I’ve witnessed, participated, analysed, absorbed, studied. Man City play the football I want to play. It is the football I want to teach and to see played.”

“With Vincent’s return we have achieved something that everyone thought was impossible. Vincent is the child of the house and the person we need to give a new impulse to the club and to use for RSCA 2.0,” said Verschueren, Anderlecht manager. “It’s a bit out of the box but [Anderlecht] needs renewal and this is the first step. Vincent is someone who has purple blood”, Verschueren continued.
Out of the box thinking it certainly is and the question is if Kompany can be successful combining the task of being a player with the job of manager at the club.

Gianluca Vialli was one of the last managers who took the role of player-manager, after Ruud Gullit’s surprising sacking in February 1998 at Chelsea. Chelsea has a history of working with a player-manager, Gullit was the third one in a row, after Ruud Gullit and Glenn Hoddle. Just as Kompany, Vialli was 33 when he took charge of Chelsea. Vialli was the first Italian to ever manage a Premier League club and he saw immediate success with the Blues, as they won both the League Cup and won the UEFA Cup in 1997/98. While Vialli made 31 appearances in the 1997/98 season, that number was almost halved to 18 in 1998/99, his first season as player-manager.

Vialli remains a rare case of a manager and his career only went downhill after his player-manager days ended, as he went on to an unsuccessful spell at Watford after his Chelsea days and hasn’t managed since. There have been other player-managers after Vialli, but they took up more of an interim position, to then becoming a full-time coach the year after. Kompany, on the other hand, signed a contract as player-manager for three years. And if his body allows him so, the plan is to play as many games as possible over those three years. ‘Vince the Prince’ is known to be a leader on the pitch, but can he also be off the field? Time will tell!


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