From Russia with Löw
While clubs from across the world will be scouting players during the World Cup – perhaps mistakenly believing that big game performance is a key mark of a player’s quality – we think the tournament a good opportunity to track head coach performance.
National team coaching isn’t the easiest task; you have limited time with the players, and therefore need to communicate good ideas well in order to get them to gel. We’re all outsiders to the training sessions and half-time team talks, so it’s important not to get carried away by a small sample of results, but the coaches at the World Cup generally have, according to our League of Nations model, seen improvements in performance during their tenures. This indicates that they probably have got their ideas across well, or at least better than their predecessor.
This in itself isn’t surprising, given teams need to play well in order to qualify for the World Cup. What is interesting though is that the majority of these coaches have also enjoyed success in other roles (which no doubt helped them get the national team job in the first place). In other words, the World Cup isn’t just a showcase for high-performing players; it’s also a showcase for high-performing coaches.
For example, coaches like Tite, Janne Andersson and Adam Nawałka have enjoyed prolonged club success before continuing that trend into national team management. Roberto Martínez meanwhile has been slightly above average in his previous club roles, but has seen dramatic improvements with Belgium after their Euro 2016 exit. In general, the coaches sit in the top right quadrant, which indicates strong performance across all tenures.
We therefore know we are looking at a group of coaches that have delivered high performance to date – some could also be strong candidates for surveillance going forward if they are a strategic fit for our club. For example, coaching international sides means making do with what you have, so coaches with this experience may be invaluable to a club looking to keep a tight budget and low squad turnover.
Smart clubs during this World Cup know that the World Cup is a small sample of matches, and so shouldn’t rush to judge performances. Nevertheless, there may be opportunities to scout beyond the touchline this summer.