At Elite Teams, a Shrinking Vision of What a Coach Looks Like


All of Gallardo’s success, so far, has come in South America. He won a league championship with Nacional in Uruguay and was rewarded with a post at River Plate, one of the biggest clubs in the world by anyone’s standards, an environment as impatient and demanding and expectant as anywhere. There, he has twice delivered the Copa Libertadores.

But while Europe’s major clubs have no problem appointing Argentines — several of Gallardo’s countrymen work in high-profile posts in European soccer, including Pochettino and Atlético Madrid’s Diego Simeone — they have long felt that success does not easily translate to the Old World.

Occasionally, that fear has been well-placed: Carlos Bianchi turned first Vélez Sarsfield and then Boca Juniors into the finest teams in Latin America, but struggled to make an impact at Roma and then, a decade later, at Atlético. Others, like Marcelo Bielsa, have made the leap a little more easily.

That skepticism, though, no longer applies just to South Americans. Europe’s superclubs increasingly see an ocean all around them. Gallardo is not the only coach who might, by now, have expected to receive the call from one of the game’s giants. He is not the only one who has built a body of work that should make him a compelling candidate.

There is Erik ten Hag, the Ajax coach, who has turned his club into a powerhouse in the Netherlands and is on the verge of his second deep run in the Champions League. There is Rúben Amorim, a decade or so younger, who has already ended Sporting Lisbon’s two-decade wait for a Portuguese title. There is Marco Rose, who has risen from Red Bull Salzburg to Borussia Mönchengladbach and then Dortmund.

These are the coaches Barcelona or Manchester United should be looking to appoint now. They are the coaches Real Madrid or Juventus might have approached in the summer. They are, most likely, the next big things.