Manager vs coach in soccer: What are the main differences between the two?

Manager vs coach in soccer: What are the main differences between the two?

Lenah Ann
April 13, 2024 at 3:51 PM
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Manager vs coach in soccer; what are the main differences between the two? For years, managers and coaches have been essential to any team's success as they work hand in hand to achieve their goals. Many fans express frustration towards the manager or coach in soccer when their team loses, sometimes even holding the management accountable for the team's performance. However, it is important to determine who bears the responsibility; the coach or the manager.

Portugal manager, Fernando Santos, Cristiano Ronaldo and a coach
Portugal manager Fernando Santos and Ronaldo (L) on 6 December 2022. On the right is a coach posing for the camera during practice. Photo Mike Egerton, AzmanJaka. (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Table of Сontents:

Effective leadership plays a crucial role in determining a team's triumph in the dynamic realm of soccer. However, have you ever considered the difference between a manager and a coach? Let us find out.

Manager vs coach in soccer

These two positions are distinguished by distinct responsibilities, even though they are often referred to interchangeably, particularly by advocates.

Let us understand the relationship between a head coach and a soccer manager and, more specifically, the difference between a coach and a manager in soccer.

The manager

In certain regions, particularly Europe and South American nations, they assume a more extensive array of responsibilities than a coach. They are the driving force behind the team's operations, overseeing both on-field tactics and off-field choices.

Roles of a manager

Strategizing and planning: They play a crucial role in developing the team's playing style, formations, and game strategy. They carefully study their opponents, evaluate their team's strengths and weaknesses, and customise their game plans accordingly.

Player selection and management: They are responsible for choosing the starting lineup and substitutes, making important decisions regarding player participation and duration of play, and overseeing player contracts, transfers, and negotiations.

Erik ten Hag, Manchester United's manager
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag takes notes during their EPL match against Brentford at Old Trafford on 5 April 2023. Photo DARREN STAPLES. (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Squad building: They play a crucial role in shaping the team's future by identifying and acquiring new talent. They collaborate closely with scouts and directors to assemble a team that reflects their vision.

Creating a positive team culture: Fostering motivation among players is an essential responsibility for them. They cultivate a team environment that promotes camaraderie and a mindset focused on success.

Managing public image: They play a crucial role in shaping the team's public perception, as they frequently interact with the media and publicly represent the club. They must excel in communication, skillfully delivering messages to fans and the press.

The coach

The function of a coach is more narrowly focused, with the primary importance being placed on developing players' technical abilities and their performance on the field. Coaches are particularly skilled in training, strategy, and the development of individual players.

Roles of a coach

Training sessions: Coaches are responsible for designing and leading training sessions, which include drills, exercises, and tactical practices to enhance individual and collective athletic abilities.

Passing on knowledge: In technical development, they collaborate closely with players, assisting them in improving their passing, shooting, dribbling, and general technique.

Palmeiras' head coach, Abel Ferreira
Abel Ferreira, Palmeiras' head coach, gestures during a match between Palmeiras and Liverpool at Allianz Parque on 11 April 2024 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo Alexandre Schneider. (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Motivational coaching: While a manager is responsible for establishing the general spirit of the team, coaches are responsible for providing players with individual motivational assistance and criticism.

Analysis of matches and comments: Coaches examine match tape, pinpoint areas in which players might improve, and provide constructive comments to assist players in learning from their errors and improving their talents.

Difference between a manager and a coach

What is the difference between a manager and a coach in soccer? A manager plays a crucial role in a football team, possessing full control over the team's operations and performance. He can select his supporting staff and add players to the team as he sees fit.

In addition, the head coach's primary role is to ensure that his team delivers a strong performance during their matches. This involves tasks such as selecting a starting lineup and providing players with specialised training tailored to their positions on the team.

In rare instances, "head coach" and "manager" are frequently used interchangeably. This is especially true in nations not located in Europe or South America. On the other hand, there may be a difference regarding certain situations:

This position may be part of a broader structure inside a club. The head coach is entirely responsible for on-field strategies and player development, while a director of football is in charge of player acquisition and team construction.

Although a successful manager requires good coaching abilities to motivate and develop individual potential, a great coach benefits from grasping the bigger vision.

Under this organisational structure, the manager is the person who possesses the ultimate authority, which includes both on-field and off-field obligations and responsibilities.

Jürgen Klopp and Harvey Elliott
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp instructs Harvey Elliott before the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 game between Liverpool and Atalanta at Anfield on 11 April 2024. Photo Ryan Crockett. (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Although both individuals have their own unique set of duties, the ideal leader combines aspects of each of these roles. A great coach is one who can see the wider picture and comprehend how individual performance contributes to the team's overall plan.

Frequently asked questions

Sometimes, football fans want to know who does what in football management and how the whole thing works, as far as soccer manager vs coach roles are concerned. Below is a sampling of fan interest on the numerous questions they encounter.

Does soccer have coaches or managers?

The choice of title for a soccer official, whether coach or manager, is often influenced by regional customs, societal expectations, and the unique circumstances of each club or organisation. And yes, soccer has both.

Is the soccer head coach vs manager the same?

As much as most fans will argue that they are the same, in theory, they are not. They each have a specific role within the club to ensure the squad's success.

Which manager has won the most trophies?

Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United boss, is widely regarded as the greatest manager in football history. He bagged 49 trophies with the famous Red Devils in his active years.

Who is bigger than the manager?

In soccer, the manager or coach is responsible for the team's strategy and the management of its players. Nevertheless, owners, sports directors, and club presidents may have a lot of say in who the managers are and how the club operates as a whole.

Final word

The manager vs coach in soccer plays a significant role in determining a soccer club's performance. While the manager is the architect of the team, constructing the squad and determining the general direction, the coach is the sculptor on the field, developing the players' abilities and moulding them into a cohesive unit; the manager is responsible for creating the squad.

READ ALSO: Discover a comprehensive list of Barcelona managers throughout their history

Sports Brief has compiled a comprehensive list detailing Barcelona managers throughout their history. Barcelona is among the world's most prominent professional association football clubs based in Catalonia, Spain.

During the club's rise to stardom, several head coaches have given their time and skills to the club, including legends Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola. Click on the link above for more details.

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Lenah Ann
Lenah Ann is a Kenyan-based content creator with 2 years of experience. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Media and Communication from Dedan Kimathi, Kenya in 2021.
Erik Ten Haag