Clarke faces familiar transition
Published: 17.06.12 / Written by: David Gold
Steve Clarke was earlier this month named as manager at Premier League club West Brom.
He left his post at Liverpool and now seems set to take up the spot with the Midlands outfit.
It is quite a turnaround after he endured a miserable end to his Liverpool spell assisting Kenny Dalglish. But Clarke follows in the footsteps of many assistant managers who have tried to make the step up to the big job. Over a decade ago Brian Kidd attempted to do so when he left Alex Ferguson’s shadow at Old Trafford to become Blackburn manager. He took them down, much as Steve Kean did after taking over from his former boss Sam Allardyce.
Yet another former Old Trafford henchman, Steve McClaren, made a more successful transition, leading Middlesbrough to the League Cup and becoming England coach, before going on to success in Holland with Twente Enschede. He did though effectively go from England assistant to manager and was a dismal failure in the national job.
Carlos Quieroz is another former Old Trafford assistant who carved a successful national team coaching role, with Portugal. And the current Germany coach Jogi Low stepped out of the shadows behind Jurgen Klinsmann following the World Cup in 2006.
But this season showed how things can go so wrong. Terry Connor took over at Wolves after Mick McCarthy was fired, and endured a miserable run of form, taking the team into the Championship after an awful run of form.
Tito Vilanova in Spain is now facing a similar challenge having been handed the hot seat following Pep Guardiola’s resignation. Whether he can do the job justice remains to be seen, but going from assistant to number one is a daunting task. But he will be up against a man, Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, who has not so much gone from number two to number one, by interpreter to coach.
And similarly, Roberto di Matteo made one of the most spectacular transitions seen when he took over an ailing Chelsea team three months ago. He lead them to a remarkable Champions League triumph.
Then there are two of the most famous managers in history; Liverpool’s Joe Fagan and Bob Paisley. Fagan led Liverpool to the league and European Cup, whilst Paisley outstripped his mentor, Bill Shankly, helping the club to win six league titles and three European Cups.
What this shows is that it often depends on the situation whether an assistant is well placed to become a manager or not. Often they can be out of their depth, too matey with players and used to playing ‘good cop’ in the changing room. To then become the boss is a tricky ask. But on the other hand, they bring continuity and understanding of the club and what it takes to make their players tick.
It ultimately depends on the players at their disposal and the position of the club. For a team like Barcelona, Vilanova should be in a good position to continue their excellent success, but conversely, Clarke takes over a mid table Premier League team and has a challenge to get them to play as they did under Roy Hodgson last year.