Six club heroes who failed when returning as manager – from Pirlo to Shearer

Turning down the opportunity to manage a club one used to play for cannot be an easy task.

After all, having previous history with a club means the manager has already had the chance to build a connection with fans and understood the club’s culture.

But it can also pull those who are unready into a false sense of security and a kind of fairytale which is unlikely to last.

This trend has recently seen an upturn with several of Europe’s biggest sides employing perhaps the most enticing name, rather than the best option.

Daily Star Sport looks at six club heroes who have proven that great skills and achievements on the field do not necessarily equate to being a great managerial fit.

Andrea Pirlo

The ever-classy Andrea Pirlo was one of the best midfielders of his generation, winning four consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus.

After claiming in his autobiography that he would never pursue management, he was appointed as Juve’s head coach in summer 2020, taking over from Maurizio Sarri.

Pirlo had no coaching experience and had only just written his managerial thesis, but was expected to extend the Bianconeri’s nine-year Scudetto-winning streak.

He did not, finishing fourth despite possessing numerous world-class players and suffered a loss to Porto in the last-16 of the Champions League to cap off a disjointed season.

Needless to say the long-haired maestro was sacked before being replaced by former boss Massimiliano Allegri.

Frank Lampard

Failure when describing Frank Lampard’s stint as Chelsea manager is slightly harsh, but there is no room for mediocrity at Stamford Bridge.

‘Super Frank’ returned to manage his former club after just one year of experience in charge of Derby County, being dealt a severely limited hand as a result of the Blues’ transfer ban.

He nonetheless managed to secure a top-four finish in the 2019/20 season and get to an FA Cup final by integrating a core of young academy prospects like Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.

But that’s as far as Lampard’s managerial abilities would take him at the club where he scored over 200 goals.

He suffered poor form despite Chelsea spending big in the summer of 2020, and after disagreements with director Marina Granovskaia over transfers, he was sacked in January in favour of current boss Thomas Tuchel, who has since improved the side considerably – with a Champions League title to show for it.

Thierry Henry

Mr ‘va-va-voom’ has the ability to ooze excellence in almost everything he does – unfortunately managing Monaco was not one of those.

The Frenchman returned to the club where he shone for seven years as a young star, replacing Leonardo Jardim as head coach in 2018.

It all looked promising when he brought back former teammate Cesc Fabregas as a star signing but fast-forward three months and the side were deeply locked in a relegation battle, having won just two of their last 12 league matches.

Henry was quickly sacked in favour of his predecessor Jardim and given a harsh lesson in management.

Alan Shearer

Few players symbolise their football club as well as Newcastle-born Alan Shearer.

The Englishman became the club’s highest ever scorer with 206 goals from 1996 to 2006, but his managerial career was nothing short of a nightmare.

He was brought in as boss on April Fool’s Day 2009 in an attempt to save his beloved Magpies from relegation, before losing five of his eight matches in charge.

Newcastle looked to have found form with a 3-1 win over Middlesbrough but went on to lose their last two matches of the season, thus suffering relegation.

Shearer has not tried his hand at management since.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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The Norwegian’s tenure as Manchester United boss has been a cycle of encouraging one-off displays, false hope and invariably a return to rock bottom.

Solskjaer took over in 2018 when the club was reeling from the dementor-like impact of Jose Mourinho on dressing room morale.

He famously brought ‘good vibes’ back to Man United and went on a spectacular 12-game unbeaten run to start his career as interim manager which led to the infamous proverb ‘Ole’s at the wheel’.

Nearly three years into his reign and Solskjaer has doubtlessly crashed the Red Devils bus, being unable to form any sort of identity with his tactics and repeatedly depending on his superstars to bail him out when the side underperforms.

Now, with United seventh in the league and having suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat to Liverpool, it appears the Old Trafford hierarchy’s patience with the ‘baby-faced assassin’ has run out.

Ronald Koeman

There is no question that Ronald Koeman was dealt an awful hand when he signed up for the Barcelona role in 2020.

The Catalan club are enduring one of the worst periods in their storied history with disastrous finances and off-field issues.

But Koeman, who never really convinced in his previous roles at Southampton, Everton or the Netherlands, has not been the man to save a sinking ship.

He won the Copa del Rey in the 2020/21 courtesy of Lionel Messi’s brilliance but performances took a turn for the worse this season, with the Dutchman being sacked on Thursday after yet another league defeat Rayo Vallecano which saw Barcelona drop to ninth.

Despite being a legendary defender for the club in the ‘90s, his rather painful tenure has threatened to tarnish his overall legacy among fans.

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