Whether you used to play football yourself or are a seasoned Football Manager legend who has taken a non-league outfit to consecutive Champions League titles, you’re probably aware of the adage that “there are two types of managers: those that wear suits and those that wear tracksuits.”
And while that probably rings true when it comes to management styles, it doesn’t quite cover the eclectic types of touchline drip we’ve come accustomed to over the years. Just as managers switch up the tactics based on their opposition, they may have a different outfit for different occasions. Rainy Tuesday night in Stoke? Keep it cozy, kitted out in a matching tracksuit. European nights at the Santiago Bernabeau? Fix up, look sharp in a three-piece suit. So varied is the football manager’s wardrobe, that I’d even venture so far as to say they have the best style in all of sports — hands down.
Most legendary managers have a go-to look they have become known for over the years. Think Italian managers in inch-perfect, tailored suits or British managers that look like they just raided the club’s gift shop (Tony Pulis, I’m looking at you). Overall, though, there are five major archetypes when it comes to touchline style.
The Tracksuit Manager
The tracksuit manager is the prototypical football manager. He was there before the glitz and glam of modern day football and will be there long after it’s all come crashing down. Just because the matching tracksuit and gift shop cap emanate a DGAF attitude, doesn’t mean this manager doesn’t give a fuck about performances on the pitch. Tony Pulis and his uncompromising defensive football come to mind, as do Jürgen Klopp and the chain-smoking Maurizio Sarri.
Suit up, look sharp
This manager is busy most Tuesday and Wednesday nights, navigating European football’s elite in a bid to win the Champions League. Where the tracksuit manager only cares about the football on the pitch, the suit-wearing manager understands that football is much more than just a game and dresses accordingly. Fabio Capello is almost never seen without a three-piece, while their tailored suits are probably the only reason Antonio Conte and Diego Simeone haven’t popped a blood vessel.
Puffer a la Arsené
It’s perhaps unfair that Arsené Wenger — the second greatest manager in Premier League history – has become known for his oversized puffers (and the hilarious struggle to zip them up), when he has given so much to the game. Not only is Monsieur Wenger an honorary member of the Order of the British Empire, his 2003-04 Arsenal team managed to win the Premier League while going undefeated — a feat that remains unmatched. Oversized puffer jackets weren’t as mainstream when Arsené was rocking them on the touchline but, as ESPN points out, luxury brands have started emulating Wenger’s style, making the manager a trendsetter of the highest order.
Football’s casual style has been covered at length by Highsnobiety in the past and it seems elements of the uniform have slowly permeated managers’ touchline style. This archetype is usually personified by younger managers such as Julian Nagelsmann or Mikel Arteta, who have an eye for what’s cool and aren’t afraid to stray from the tried and trusted. Don’t get it twisted though — as much as they look like one of the lads, they’re still the boss man at the end of the day.
Our final archetype mixes the hard-nosed, suit-wearing type with those that like to experiment a little on the touchline. Think an experimental camel or trench coat on Champions League nights or a Stone Island sweater matched with more formal bottoms. German national team coach Jogi Löw is the poster boy for this style, while Guardiola is also known for his penchant for getting a fit off.