Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In Fashion

Part of the excitement of any new season is the launch of new kits.

What will your team turn out in this season? Which side have decided to go back to their original kit to mark an anniversary?

And which club have ridiculously chosen two kits which will force them to invent a third one later in the season to avoid a clash?

While tempting to do an article about the best and the worst of the 2010/11 season's kits, I decided against that.

Instead, I thought I would continue my unhealthy interest in managerial wear.

In the past I shared my fascination with the baseball cap which, in my mind, is the biggest indicator that a manager likes to play a long ball game.

What different coaches wore on the touchline also seemed to create great interest during this summer's World Cup.

From Joachim Loew's blue cashmere sweater to the open necked shirt and grey suit combo sported by the Dutch coaching staff, a manager's fashion sense was scrutinised almost as much as his tactics and substitutions.

Indeed, it could even be argued that the stylish appearance of Germany's manager was translated to their play on the pitch. Sadly, England's dull grey suits also matched their performances.

I will never forget, too, the uber cool Marco Van Basten's dress sense in 2006 when he sported a jumper tied around the waist.

It's a style I still champion myself - and will argue is not only practical but, yes, cool as well.

So, with eyes firmly on domestic matters, can we learn anything similar from the managerial chic on display on touchlines up and down the country?

Here's my guide to the different managerial attire - and whether we can read anything into it.

The Managerial Suit

The ultimate statement that you're managerial big fry. Particularly popular in the top flight, more and more managers across the leagues are choosing to go down the suit route.

Is it because they think it makes them look important?

Maybe it helps to create an aura of professionalism and, particularly for a younger boss, separates them from the players?

For extra fashion points, you can combine it too with the latest fashion item - the thin tie. Who knows exactly why they've suddenly become all the rage.

However, if Preston manager, and notorious toss pot, Darren Ferguson is wearing them, then you can count me out.

Fancy Dan

You don't have to be called Dan and you don't even have to be managing a glamorous club to be able to dress up for the occasion.

Take Exeter boss Paul Tisdale, for example.

Whatever the game, he can always be found dressed up to the nines. Having been to the county town of Devon, I can confirm that he would stand out like a particularly sore thumb wearing that kind of garb.

Not that that deters our Paul. Here he's sporting a suit, jacket and there appears to be some kind of extravagant tie/cravat sort of thing going on, too.

Personally, I think it's all part of an ingenious plot to stand out from the rest of the crowd.

His performance at Exeter in the last four years should really have earned him a bigger job by now. Maybe standing out from the crowd clothes-wise will draw the attention of a club with Fancy Dan ambitions of their own.

The Tracksuit

The ultimate in non-pretension, it's the managerial-wear which shows you mean business.

No prancing around worrying that your expensive Italian shoes are going to get a bit muddy in the technical area.

Oh no, you're wearing your very own club's tracksuit - and, in the case of Derby manager Nigel Clough, gleaming white trainers which could blind somebody if the floodlights reflect off them at an unfortunate angle.

In fact, I'm not sure that, were he to go into a local shopping mall dressed like that, he wouldn't be tailed by a security guard. He'd certainly be told to put his hood down.

In my experience, I've noticed the tracksuit is particularly popular when new managers take over at a struggling club to give over a message that the new man is on the training ground trying to tighten up that leaky back line and get those misfiring forwards scoring.

The Polo Shirt

There's something slightly strange about a man in his sixties wearing a polo shirt. I don't know why.

Shouldn't he be wearing a cardigan and slippers, not a young guy's shirt?

However, it's the popular touchline attire of QPR's Neil Warnock.

Although, from what I've been told he's shouted from his car in the past, he probably still thinks he's a young guy about town.

Like the managerial tracksuit, the simple polo shirt and tracksuit bottoms give off the impression of a no-frills approach to the game.

Polo shirted managers produce sides full of running and hard-work. You won't find Warnock in a suit - and you won't one of his sides playing it around like Spain.

The Club Jacket

A classic, an absolute classic. Indeed, I would hazard a guess it is the most popular managerial style that you will see up and down the country on a touchline this season.

As displayed here by Swindon boss Danny Wilson, the club jacket offers any manager the best of both worlds.

It's the perfect combination of smart and practical.

You have the freedom to choose a suit of your own but can also show your club loyalty - with a warm jacket perfect for those chilly Tuesday nights in Grimsby.

It's always Grimsby, isn't it?

The official club tie, or at least one in your club's colours is also an essential element of this style though - particularly with your jacket covering up most of your suit.

The Shorts

Nothing says "I'm a down-to-earth manager" like the wearing of shorts on the touchline. Even more so than a tracksuit.

Some might argue it's the act of a manager still clinging onto the belief that he's a player.

Others might simply wear shorts during the warm periods of weather at the beginning and end of the season.

Some, like Sheffield Wednesday's Alan Irvine, even wear shorts on more cold and brisk evenings.

He is Scottish, so perhaps it's no surprise, but shorts can't help but give off the image of a hard man.

Hardly Premier League class though. You can't imagine Arsene Wenger striding out at the Emirates in shorts, can you?

Let's move quickly on from that image, however.

The Rest

Some managers' choice of clothing on the touchline simply can't be labelled. That's mostly because nobody else would even dream of being seen wearing some of their choices.

Step forward Leicester boss Paulo Sousa, infamous for the pink cardigan which he could be seen sporting, sometimes under a jacket, at old club Swansea.

Maybe it's a Portuguese thing? Perhaps it's his own individual tastes?

Sometimes his dress sense was so garish it was more entertaining than watching his goal-shy Swans team.

If Leciester do well this term, expect him to dress down.

Also famous for his appearance in the dugout is Keith Hill of Rochdale.

The straight-talking Lancastrian has worked wonders at Spotland, but his dress sense often leaves a lot to be desired.

Sometimes dressed up, sometimes dressed down. It's difficult to believe these images are of the same manager.

One day a smart coat and scarf, and the next turning up as if he's just arrived at the ground after filming a cameo role on Emmerdale. Maybe he just looks after sheep in his spare time?

This next ensemble of boots, football socks tucked into jogging bottoms, and club shirt combo I like to call 'Homage to O'Neill.'

It's difficult not to think of the current Aston Villa and former Leicester manager Martin O'Neill when you see Norwich's Paul Lambert on the touchline.

The two worked together at Celtic and indeed, both have the Canaries and Wycombe on their managerial CVs.

Perhaps that's why the young Scot has chosen to follow his old master's dress sense on the touchline.

His results and climb up the football ladder is certainly mirroring that of O'Neill's.

This final miscellaneous example of managerial attire comes from our old friend Mr Tisdale.

When it comes to head wear, his commitment to playing attractive football rules out any possible baseball cap.

So when he needs to keep his head warm, Exeter's gaffer goes for something altogether different.

It's hard to imagine him having warn something similar in Malta - where he was born. However, for creativity and originality, he receives full marks.

Touchline attire - you'll never look at a manager the same way again.

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