9 of the filthiest pieces of touchline skill from managers: Xavi, Mourinho, Farke…
The sight of managers showcasing their perfect first touch on the sidelines is something that cuts across petty rivalries and unites football supporters in awestruck wonder.
Even though the vast majority of managers will have enjoyed a professional playing career of some description, seeing them kill a ball stone dead or produce the kind of skill that’d make Ronaldinho blush is surprising and brilliant in equal measure.
We’ve picked out nine pieces of skill from managers on the touchline that made our hearts beat a little faster.
The Barcelona boss watches the ball all the way onto his foot, before risking an embarrassing trouser rip by stretching to direct it back onto the field of play.
Good, but the World Cup winner would’ve killed it stone dead in his playing days.
— Barça Buzz Video Account. 📽 (@BBVideoAccount_) September 27, 2023
Best part of this is Farke trying and failing to hide just how pleased with himself he is. And the Watford bench equally trying and failing to hide how impressed they were.
Leeds manager Daniel Farke's control 🥵
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 23, 2023
Ancelotti’s managerial prowess means his fine playing career is often overlooked. But this improvised keepie-uppie session during the white heat of a Champions League quarter-final was classier than a candlelit dinner for two.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 13, 2023
To the surprise of many, Hughes stepped down to League Two and took charge of perennial sleeping giants Bradford City in 2022.
While he’s not managed to escape the fourth tier yet, the former Manchester United striker treated the locals to the kind of wizardry not seen outside of Hogwarts with a demonstration of his ball control.
And that backheel? You’ll want to clear your diary and watch it on repeat.
You don’t lose it… 🔥
Mark Hughes showing the Bradford fans he’s still got the touch 👏 pic.twitter.com/n3nDvzV47e
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) April 26, 2022
Despite never playing at international level, Arteta enjoyed a fine career with the likes of Real Sociedad, Rangers, Everton and Arsenal.
And with flicks like this one in 2022, wearing trousers and loafers no less, his successful playing days come as no surprise. Not a hair out of place either.
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) December 8, 2022
Everything about this oozes Italy, from its extravagant execution to the unmoved reaction from Mancini that suggests busting out scorpion flicks at the European Championship is as mundane as filling up his Vespa.
As we head into the Euro Final tomorrow let’s not forget this insane touch by Mancini 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/T3gvF7wqpf
— Growing Up Italian (@GrowingUpItalia) July 10, 2021
It’s hardly a shock to see Alonso on this list – the guy made a career out of caressing the ball around the pitch with the grace of an Olympic gymnast.
But this cushioned pass still managed to make our hearts flutter.
Xabi Alonso Touch 👌pic.twitter.com/t7yhsuHi6t
— My Greatest 11 (@MyGreatest11) November 2, 2022
Was Pochettino wearing velcro underneath his sleeping bag jacket here? This chest control from his Southampton days certainly suggests so.
Mourinho didn’t enjoy a hugely successful playing career, especially in comparison with some of the other entrants on this list, but he managed to usher this bouncing ball into his orbit like a seasoned pro during his spell at Manchester United.
— Manchester United (@ManUtds_News) August 19, 2016