A World Without Coaches

What would the world’s game be like without any coaches?
by Herb Scribner   |   Friday, November 01, 2013

USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann needs to form a core team before World Cup Qualifying begins

Imagine a world without coaches.

Think of a world where the men dressed in suits who sit idly by on the sidelines are no longer needed. Players control the actions on the pitch, and the club owners and administration make the player deals and transfers.

What kind of world would it be?

Players would have a lot more freedom to play the way they’re naturally built to compete. Those who have been over-coached and moved to new positions for the sake of convenience would have a chance to play the way they want, which could lead to more exciting soccer.

In the English Premier League, Manchester United would plummet even farther down the table. If Sir Alex Ferguson was the only thing making that group of players successful, imagine how they’d do without any coach.

But it’d be a lot different for the other Manchester side. City would become the most dominant team in England if their players were allowed to roam freely and weren’t constrained to the tactical decisions of a coach, even a great one. Joe Hart would likely be out of a starting job, though, which could only benefit Man City, especially as they make a run for European success.

Jose Mourinho would go from “The Chosen One” to “The Unemployed One.” In a tattered suit, he’d stand outside electronic stores and watch his beloved Chelsea fall down the Premier League table and struggle to compete in England. But at least they’d all get along in the locker room without him.

Barcelona and Real Madrid would continue to rule Spain, similar to how things stand now. But with Tata Martino out of a job at Barca, Leo Messi would actually get to play a whole game.

PSG would be the only Ligue 1 club left standing, as the rest of France’s clubs would protest the league because that’s just what France does.

Italian clubs have been so coached and immersed in the tactical side of the game that you’d never noticed coaches were missing.

In Egypt, Bob Bradley would literally become the Real American Pharaoh and lead the country into a new age of democracy – that is until perennial nemesis Ghana invades Egypt and dumps Bradley out of that job too. This would of course lead to yet another best-selling Grant Wahl book entitled “Not Ghana Do It Again.”

Back stateside, the United States Men’s National Team would become so midfield heavy they’d play a 3-6-1, though still shockingly having rightback problems.

Tim Howard would grow out his beard to ZZ Top levels. He’d eventually leave the team, citing “spiritual reasons” and be harassed at airports for years to come.

Youth and developmental coaches in the U.S. would no longer be around to remove joy, inhibit inventiveness, push winning over all else and force players to play both sides of the ball, and ironically American soccer would finally breed a legion of creative attacking players – while saving millions on coaches and the vast built-up to support them.

All games for kids under 14 would be cancelled, since angry and stereotypical soccer parents would try to make substitutions and control the games much like coaches do.

Jurgen Klinsmann seeking work in his home state of California would model skinny jeans and thin polo t-shirts for local department stores and conduct beach yoga lessons in Santa Monica, for hugs and smiles.

Carlos Vela would play for Mexico.

Mexico would play like Mexico.

Bruce Arena would spearhead a “Blame The Referees” campaign, where he, other former coaches and irrational fans would incessantly blame all MLS referees for causing the elimination of coaches.

Alexi Lalas would give up commentary and play for Chivas USA. No one would see that coming, except Taylor Twellman, who would call it a “smart move by Chivas and Big Red.” Lalas would then eventually become the General Manager, fire himself the player and then hire that person to become the Chivas Play-by-Play guy where he could lambast himself and alter the fabric of space-time.

Chivas USA, Toronto FC and DC United couldn’t get much worse.

Similarly, not much would change for the New England Revolution. They’d still have Bob Kraft as an owner, so they’d still play on football lines and be treated as a minor sideshow act for Gillette Stadium.

Instead of ruining his potential by staying with the Revs, the young Diego Fagundez would quietly sneak away from New England and flee the country.

The Houston Dynamo wouldn’t know how to play in MLS anymore.

The Seattle Sounders might figure out a winning game plan and a style. DeAndre Yedlin would inspire the entire team to get elaborate haircuts, which would include Clint Dempsey shaping his hair into an actual #2. Anti-Seattle fans would say they “can see right through” Dempsey’s haircut choice. Eddie Johnson would declare he’s going to pay himself more, but then shortly realize the owners still control the finances.

Colorado Rapids would slowly revert back to the Gary Smith days and turn Dillon Powers into a new and improved version of Conor Casey. They’d end up winning the MLS Cup over the Columbus Crew, because that’s just how things go sometimes in MLS.

The Earthquakes would stop playing soccer altogether and set up a mixed martial arts cage at the site of San Jose’s new stadium. Dana White would agree to come, but only if the word “soccer” was banned from all NorCal vernacular.

Steven Lenhart, Alan Gordon, Aurelien Collin, Brian Mullan, Pa Modou Kah and Nigel Reo-Coker would unite and form their own team called “The Sinister Six.” They’d invade games just to injure players for the season, and then run out of the stadium like Messi versus Northwestern in a badly organized charity friendly.

Mike Magee and Marco Di Vaio would still score goals.

Camilo would still score goals too, but he’d have a 1v11 scenario in every game. The rest of the Vancouver Whitecaps wouldn’t show up – just like 2013.

Fox Soccer Daily wouldn’t have any random English coach to interview, which would send their show and brand into chaos.

Without coaches to blame, fans, pundits and analysts could see the players for who they really were. It’d be easier to sort out the poor players from the great ones.

We’ll never know what a world without coaches would look like. The world might get more exciting and creative, and the entirety of soccer would shift in a new direction. It might get a whole lot more fanciful, but maybe a bit more dull too.


UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.