Gerrard, Xavi, Solskjaer, Rooney: The best managerial XI based on their playing careers

  • Kobe Tong

Steven Gerrard will look to transfer the Premier League magic from his playing career to his latest managerial endeavour at Aston Villa.

So far, the Liverpool legend is proving that his talents aren’t limited to the white lines of the pitch, silencing the haters with an impressive spell at Rangers that saw him win the Scottish Premiership.

However, even in a world where Gerrard can’t extend that purple patch into his time at Villa Park, he at least has the luxury of lounging back into what was undoubtedly a superb time as a player.

Gerrard takes the reins at Villa

From leading the Reds to Champions League glory in Istanbul to having an FA Cup final named after him, Gerrard is certainly one of the most high-profile players to ever become a head coach.

In fact, that gave us a thought here at GIVEMESPORT: who are the best managers in the world if you were to rank them based on their playing careers?

Besides, while some coaches like Gerrard and Pep Guardiola were top-class before their time in management, the same can’t be said of Brendan Rodgers and Thomas Tuchel, for example.

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Best managerial XI by playing careers

So, hold that thought, because we’ve drawn up what we believe to be the strongest XI of managers who are currently employed based on their time as players – and you can check it out down below:

GK: Julen Lopetegui

The Sevilla boss is one of the very few goalkeeper-cum-coaches at the top level having played for Barcelona and Real Madrid during his time between the sticks and even picking up a cap for Spain.


DF: Laurent Blanc

Back in coaching after four years, the Al-Rayyan manager is a World Cup winner with experience turning out for Manchester United, Barcelona and Inter Milan across his illustrious playing career.

DF: Vincent Kompany

One of the greatest central defenders in Premier League history, Kompany – who now coaches Anderlecht – captained Manchester City to four league titles and amassed 89 caps for Belgium.


DF: Mauricio Pochettino

With 95 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain as a player, Pochettino is now dishing out the orders at the Parc des Princes having represented Argentina at the 2002 World Cup during his pomp.

MF: Pep Guardiola

As dominant at City as he was in midfield for Barcelona, Guardiola added a Catalan heartbeat to Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ of the 1990s as he helped the Blaugrana to their maiden European title.


MF: Patrick Vieira

A Rolls Royce of a midfielder with World Cup and Euros glory to show for it, Vieira is back in the league that saw him captain Arsenal to ‘invincibles’ status as the head coach of Crystal Palace.

MF: Steven Gerrard

The reason we’re here. The Liverpool legend has won everything there is to win in the game – save the obvious – and will be hoping to inspire Villa with just as much motivation and gusto as coach.


MF: Xavi

If Xavi can be anywhere near as successful at Camp Nou as he was as a player, then Barca better strap themselves in for glory because the Spaniard is one of the greatest midfielders of all time.

FW: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The under-fire United boss was simply lethal as a forward at Old Trafford, scoring over 100 goals – including four off the bench at Nottingham Forest  – despite largely being used as a substitute.


FW: Andriy Shevchenko

A former Ballon d’Or winner who tasted Champions League glory with AC Milan, Shevchenko has swapped scoring more than 300 goals for pulling the strings at Genoa via time in charge of Ukraine.

FW: Wayne Rooney

Rooney might not be enjoying a smooth ride as manager at Derby County, but his remarkable playing career sees him endure as Manchester United and England’s all-time record goalscorer.


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What a team…

Well then. It’s fair to say that this managerial XI would take some serious beating if they all played together during their heyday.

While Pochettino and Lopetegui don’t quite compete with Vieira and Xavi in terms of quality, there’s hardly a weak point in a line-up that could get even stronger as other stars return to management.

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Besides, we’d have a real headache on our hands by the time that Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and Frank Lampard step back into the technical area with some top players already missing out.

However, as things stand, we’re pretty confident that our managerial XI could go up against some of the best teams in the world and hold their own because that midfield is simply out of this world.



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