World Cup 2018: Managers to watch


The pressure-cooker atmosphere of an intense World Cup campaign can do funny things to a manager.

Who can we expect to pull off a maverick tactical switch and who is guaranteed to add a splash of colour?

Here are five to watch…


Herve Renard, Morocco
Renard has already clocked up one milestone ahead of his flight to Russia – as the only former Cambridge Utd manager to be guiding a team out at this year’s World Cup.

The highly-regarded Atlas Lions coach has steadily rebuilt his reputation following a brief and disappointing spell in English football in 2004 and is now one of the most sought-after coaches in African football. The 49-year-old is a two-time winner of the African Cup of Nations with Zambia and the Ivory Coast and specialises in squeezing the maximum out of limited teams.

He’ll need to work magic in a group featuring Portugal and Spain, but qualification will surely put much bigger nations or elite level clubs on high alert later this summer.


Heimir Hallgrímsson, Iceland
The feel-good factor from Euro 2016 continues as the smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup prepare to make their entrance on the global stage. Much of that steely resolve and inner confidence comes down to Hallgrímsson who has been charge of the national team since 2013.

Iceland manager

The Icelanders are famed for their calm reserve under pressure so don’t expect too many theatrics on the sidelines – even if their fiercely partisan support light up Russian venues with their infamous Viking chant.


Tite, Brazil
Depending on how you look at it, 57-year-old Tite has the extreme good fortune or heavy burden of working in the shadow of Brazil’s darkest ever day at a World Cup.

Tite Brazil

The 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany in 2014 still scars all Brazilians, but if he can use that experience to galvanise his charges, he could lead them to redemption in Russia. Tite isn’t renowned for his sides playing particularly 1970s-style ginga’ football, but a manager who can organise a defence is surely the tonic the country needs as they look to put their national nightmare behind them.


Jorge Sampaoli, Argentina
The Argentinians are heading in to the tournament with many pundits lukewarm about their chances – and that could just play in to the hands of the supremely underrated Sampaoli.

The Argentine has international pedigree, with his high-pressing Chile side impressing in Brazil in 2014 and continuing that form to claim the 2015 Copa America. Shrewd coaching, sprinkled with some Messi stardust, may just be Argentina’s best bet in Russia.


Juan Carlos Osorio, Mexico
Every World Cup tournament needs an eccentric coach to generate headlines during the opening stages, and the Mexico boss could fit the bill perfectly.

Osorio Mexico

Aside from a stint as a conditioning coach at Manchester City, Osorio’s career has mostly been spent in the Americas, meaning his unorthodox methods will be unfamiliar to anyone more accustomed with European football. Nicknamed ‘the Recreationist’, Osorio employs novelty training methods to keep his players on their toes and is happy to switch formations at the drop of a hat – with mixed results.

With the Mexican Football Federation notoriously trigger-happy, the Colombian-born coach has done well to survive three years at the helm, and this World Cup will be his last hurrah after opting not to extend his contract. Expect fireworks even if the Mexicans come unstuck.


Aliou Cissé, Senegal
And finally, a familiar face for anyone with a passion for journeyman Premier League footballers.

Allou Cisse

Fans of Birmingham and Portsmouth tuning in to the action in Group H will be instantly familiar with the man pacing the Senegalese dugout, as former midfielder Allou Cissé takes charge of his first World Cup campaign.

The 42-year-old is the youngest manager at this year’s World Cup and will be hoping he can emulate his mentor, the late Bruno Metsu, who steered Senegal to the Quarter-Finals in 2002. Cissé captained the side in that famous run, which included a shock 1-0 win over holders France.


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