The outbreak of COVID-19 has paused, if not ruined, football for the foreseeable future.
All major European leagues have been suspended and the 2020 European Championships have been pushed back to next summer instead. In the meantime, clubs go into lockdown almost as quickly as European cities.
Players are handling this situation in a variety of ways. James Milner has rationed his teabags, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been perfecting his dance moves with popstar partner Perrie Edwards and most have just been working out at home.
But what about their bosses?
With no real football to write about, we’ve tried to imagine what each Premier League manager might be doing to pass the time.
As the first Premier League player or manager to contract COVID-19, Arsenal head coach Arteta is ruled out on medical grounds. Get well soon, Mikel.
The Aston Villa boss is – or at least was – hugely popular at Villa Park because of his affinity with the club and its supporters. A lifelong Villa fan who used to sweep the Holte End terraces while his father, Ron, was a steward in the Trinity Road Stand, getting the job and guiding his club back to the Premier League meant everything to Smith. Being with his people matters, and we can just see the likeable Villans boss propping up the bar in his role as landlord of the nearest Villa pub.
The Bournemouth boss is rarely – if ever – seen without his trusty club tracksuit as he patrols the touchline at Dean Court. With his eternally youthful and boyish good looks, Howe bears all the hallmarks of a PE teacher. And if his Cherries side is anything to go by, probably not a very disciplined or organised one. At least he’d be popular with his pupils.
Potter’s exploits with Swedish minnows Östersunds brought him to national attention, as did his rather ‘quirky’ methods while coaching in Scandanavia. Among them, getting his players to put on a performance of Swan Lake. That in mind, we can just see the Brighton & Hove Albion manager putting together another theatre production to kill time.
Discipline, organisation and respect are three adjectives which perfectly sum up the Burnley boss. Pillars of his own personal standards and qualities you’d associate with his team, the gravel-voiced Clarets boss would make the perfect army drill sergeant. There’d be no dissent in those ranks.
Ask any non-football fan what they know about the youthful Chelsea gaffer and they will, without doubt, mention he has his GCSEs including one in Latin. That shouldn’t be such a remarkable thing, but it is. On that basis, we’ve got brainbox Lampard pegged as a Latin teacher.
At 72, Crystal Palace manager Hodgson is by some distance the elder statesman of the Premier League and, as such, holds a certain authority. In a former life, the former Internazionale coach was a PE teacher at Alleyn’s School in South London so we figure he’d make the ideal headteacher. Plus, he’s been England manager, so he’s used to being everyone’s figure of fun.
We’re reverting to cliché a little here but please excuse us. Carlo is Italian and Italians are famed for their food. We can envisage the Everton manager being the proprietor of a trendy, upmarket Italian restaurant. He probably wouldn’t do much cooking – more eating than anything – but his warm welcome and Italian charm make Carlo’s the place to eat.
There’s no doubt about it, the Leicester City boss has the gift of the gab and there’s a strong suspicion that if he were made of chocolate, the Ulsterman would eat himself. Those are the perfect qualities for an estate agent. He’s already been involved in the rental market, too, famously acting landlord to his Anfield successor Jürgen Klopp.
Given his rather abrupt retort to fans holding their hands out as he walked out the Anfield tunnel ahead of the second leg of Liverpool‘s Champions League tie against Atlético Madrid earlier this month, there has to be a job for Klopp working as a health and safety advisor in the current climate.
Jurgen Klopp: "Put your hands away you f***ing idiots!" ?❌
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) March 11, 2020
The Catalan tactician has broken new ground with his touchline attire since moving to England in 2016 – who could forget that weird cardigan-cum-hoodie he rocked for a good season?! – the Manchester City manager would make the ideal ‘realistic’ model for an upmarket men’s fashion label. Assuming his daughter was the designer.
Ole Gunner Solskjær
‘Ole’s at the wheel, tell me, how goes does it feel?’ This one just writes itself. Right now the ride is pretty smooth, just don’t expect to reach your destination any time soon. Oh, and routes from August through January can be rather bumpy with one particularly moany French passenger frequently seen travelling…
‘How’s the bacon, did you say?’ It was one of the immortal lines of the 2019/20 season from the start of one of Bruce’s Newcastle United press conferences so, for that reason, we are putting the Magpies manager in charge of a butchers shop so he can have all the bacon he desires.
?️ "How was the break then, Steve?"
? "How was the bacon did you say?"
— The Chronicle (@ChronicleNUFC) February 14, 2020
The Norwich City manager just isn’t what you expect you Premier League head coach to look like. There’s just something undeniably cool about his grizzled face, beard and long hair. Oh, and he once rode a horse don’t you know? That’s the sort of caper you might associate with a punk rock band so we’re making Farke manager of The Canaries – see what we did there?
The Sheffield United boss is a boyhood Blades fan – he’s even got a tattoo to prove it – and that makes him pretty popular in the red-and-white half of the city. The drawback is that makes getting around pretty hard. “I still live in the city,” Wilder revealed in 2017. “I still jump on the bus. The bus stopped the other day and the driver got out and asked to take a selfie. I think the other passengers were thinking ‘what’s happening here?’.” The solution? Bus driver.
The former RB Leipzig boss has previously admitted he used to cycle between Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach‘s training camps to spy on the two sides with a pair of binoculars. And if the work dries up for the Southampton manager, surely Marcelo Bielsa will have some freelance work for him?!
There is nothing the Special One likes more than moaning and creating mischief – not even football itself. Whether it’s bolting down the Old Trafford touchline after Porto’s late winner in 2004, poking Tito Villanova in the eye or cocking his ear to Juventus fans after an improbable win in 2018, Mourinho relishes conflict. So we’re giving him his own Katie Hopkins-style column to spout his bile at whoever he fancies on a daily basis. He might not even want to return to football.
Make no mistake, the Watford boss is as hard as nails and he wants you to know it. Which other Premier League manager would beat off a pack of wild wolves while hiking alone in the Carpathian Mountains? A keen walker who enjoys his own company, the lack of football on TV could be solved by a one-man show in which Pearson goes on dangerous walks and survives off his instinct. Think an ostrich-hating Bear Grylls.
There were plenty of similarities between the current West Ham United manager and Sir Alex Ferguson when he was hand-selected to replace the legendary Scot at Old Trafford. One of those was their support for the Labour party and we can’t help but feel, in these times particularly, Moyes might be taking to the street – or internet, who can say? – to rail against the current Conservative government.
Nuno Espírito Santo
We have to admit, we were struggling with this one. But after much consultation (read: scraping the barrel) we realised Espírito Santo actually means ‘Holy Spirit’ in Portuguese and given his mild manners and, well, bald head we can’t shake the image of the Wolverhampton Wanderers coach as a monk.