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Pep Guardiola & the football managers who would thrive in another sport

We often judge and compare football managers by how many trophies they’ve won and the legacies they’ve carved out in our beautiful game, but what if the real measuring stick was seeing how they adapted to other sports?

You’ve got to be a special kind of person to be a football manager at the highest level. Sleepless nights, knowing you’re always only a string of losses away from your job being on the line, managing egos, the endless tactical innovations and – of course – deciding whether it’s a tracksuit or formal wear kind of matchday.

Call us crazy, but with what it takes to be a football manager, we here at Planet Football believe that there is an elite club of managers and coaches who would be able to pivot into another sport.

Granted that might be to varying levels of success, what we’re sure of is that they’re all psycho enough to try.

With that in mind, we’ve gathered a list of nine managers and paired them up to a sport we think they could pivot to.

Pep Guardiola – Basketball

Truthfully, we could’ve paired up this absolute freak with any sport in the world. In terms of managers having a screw loose, Pep is both knowledgeable and unhinged enough to throw himself head first into another discipline and become a wizard of it.

Having been pictured courtside at the NBA on more than one occasion, however, we’ve landed on basketball.

After the Boston Celtics won a record 18th title recently, head coach Joe Mazzulla revealed: “Dallas has one of the smartest defences. We had to be creative. Pep (Guardiola) helped me in transitions and how to move the guys.”

Leave their sport alone Pep, you absolute madman.

Thomas Frank – Tennis

We don’t have much logic behind this one other than the fact that Frank looks like your stereotypical tennis player and is enough of a pragmatist to give it a good go.

He’s got the long hair perfect for your typical tennis headband, keeps himself in good shape and gets rather animated on the touchline. Who knows? He might just have a mean backhand.

Brentford, UK. 28th Nov, 2021. Brentford manager Thomas Frank after the Premier League match between Brentford and Everton at the Brentford Community Stadium, Brentford, England on 28 November 2021

READ: Ranking all of the BBC & ITV pundits at Euro 2024 from worst to best

Julian Nagelsmann – American Football

The American mind cannot comprehend Nagelsmann’s crazy touchline fits, even crazier tactical depth and his need for bizarre tech such as scooters and giant screens.

Nagelsmann is undoubtedly the game’s next great mind and it’s frightening to think he’s only 36.

We think he’d absolutely thrive on how nerdy he could get with American Football, from the daft headsets and play cards, to the intricate plays and obsession with shape, offence and defence.

Sean Dyche – Snooker

Dyche being a darts player is too obvious. Sure, he probably loves a pint. He definitely loves a pint. But in the workplace, when there’s a game to be won? Get real.

A staunch disciplinarian, nobody works hard and plays hard quite like him. Imagine him suited and booted in the Crucible. You can just see it, can’t you?

Polishing his cue with a steely look in his eye, sending nukes down the cloth like it’s a long ball pinged straight at Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s head.

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s legacy would be in serious trouble. Fear it. Run from it.

READ NEXT: Imagining football managers as Pokemon trainers: Guardiola, Mourinho, Ancelotti…

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every manager to have won the Champions League?

Diego Simeone – MMA

Just an absolutely mad bastard, isn’t he? Probably wouldn’t even bother with anything official like UFC. No chance. El Cholo’s going straight for that batsh*t crazy, bare-knuckle boxing stuff you see online once in a blue moon.

Serial shadowboxer after a cerveza, and don’t doubt his fitness, either. Simeone is a tank. We’d love to see him locked in the Octagon. Not much of a submission specialist or a technician, but stand up with him and you’re never out-striking him.

Ronald Koeman – Darts

Perhaps a left-field pick, here, but let us land. Not only do the Dutch have a strong record with the working man’s javelin – Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld to name a few – Koeman has already got the look and build of a darts player, too.

Whack a hideous orange shirt on him, let him sink a few beers and watch him wave goodbye to football with his PDC tour card in the other hand.

We’re also firmly of the belief that he needs an escape from getting stuck in the time loop that is the Netherlands job, having just taken charge for the second time.

Get out while you can, Ronald. The stage is calling your name.

Jose Mourinho – Professional wrestling

Mourinho’s unwavering confidence/arrogance/sociopathic behaviour is probably strong enough for him to try his hand at any sport in the world.

We were close to suggesting he ought to try his hand at American Football given the importance of a defensive co-ordinator, but truthfully, he’s the perfect fit for a pivot to sports entertainment.

Taking the occasional bump, delivering a mean chokeslam and dominating the microphone in between. Give us what we want, Don Jose. 

READ: 6 alternative careers for Jose Mourinho if he retired from football management


Mikel Arteta – Padel

The cooler, more hip younger brother to tennis, Mikel Arteta already plays padel in what is the most unsurprising news of 2024.

Of course he plays padel. Good for the mind and body is it, Mikel? Do you bring a film camera along too and drink ridiculously expensive coffee from a nearby cafe afterwards, too? Of course you do.

Padel is actually proving a bit of a revelation among footballers, so Arteta isn’t the only one now playing it. He is the manager we believe is most likely to make a career of it, though.

Give it a go, Mikel. Much healthier than trying to chase Pep. If you’re any good, you might find yourself up against Hatem Ben Arfa. No, seriously.

Zinedine Zidane – Formula 1

There’s a strange reason why Zidane refuses to get back into management for any job that’s not on the level of Real Madrid, and that’s probably to do with the fact that he’s quite possibly the coolest man alive.

What do cool people do? Race the fastest cars in the world around tracks at 200 miles per hour. He’s a magician is Zizou and he’s already got an in, working with Alpine F1 in an ambassadorial role.

We can already picture the iconic podium pictures already. He’d nail it.