The charisma clause: Ranking the Premier League managers that inspire devotion

The charisma clause: Ranking the Premier League managers that inspire devotion

There are two definitions of ‘charisma’ in the dictionary - and while Jose Mourinho may prefer the description as a ‘divinely conferred power or talent’, we're sticking to the more traditional understanding of the word - a ‘compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others’.

Jose Mourinho, currently relaxing in Portugal as he contemplates his next managerial role, recently proclaimed that the most important characteristic of a modern manager was not coaching skill, tactical nous, or man-management but simply charisma.

It’s an interesting take in a world where charisma seems to be the biggest requirement for leadership in politics — but where big business is shying away from the idea of a single charismatic leader to embrace an enterprise leadership model instead.

But what if a team’s result really did depend entirely on the charm and personality of their manager?

What would the Premier League look like?

Here’s the 2019-20 table if results were decided on charisma rather than football...

1 Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)

The Liverpool manager is charisma personified and his players would fight to the bitter end just to receive one of his famous bear hugs. The German’s press conferences are entertaining, endearing and, let’s be honest, just a little bit baffling; but the energy, passion, and empathy he exudes is remarkable. A real man of the people who doesn’t just understand his players but his fans and his city too.

2 Pep Guardiola (Man City)

When you see how individual players such as Raheem Sterling have improved under Guardiola, then his coaching skills are almost untouchable. But the former Barcelona man is also driven and passionate and that’s a big part of the way he works. Players at the Etihad hang on his every word and fight every battle for him — and his press conferences are so fascinating, they should be ticketed.

3 Frank Lampard (Chelsea)

He may be new to Premier League management but Lampard’s character and charisma is what will ultimately make him a success this season. He’s the kind of genuine nice guy who takes people with him and leads by example.

4 Sean Dyche (Burnley)

Who wouldn’t want to share a pint in a Burnley pub with Sean Dyche? The voice may sound like one of Bart Simpson’s maiden aunts but he’s one of the most down to earth and honest managers in football.

5 Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)

The more his English improves, the more fascinating Pochettino has become. In his Southampton days, when he opted to speak in Spanish, he seemed a little straight and aloof. Now you can see he is driven, passionate, and intelligent. It’s obvious he is close to his players, too.

6 Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City)

So, yes, Brendan comes across sometimes as though he likes himself rather a lot. But there’s certainly charisma there and you can see why players follow him. He’s serious and passionate about the game.

7 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Man United)

We’re still finding out more about Ole, who arrived at Old Trafford as the loveable fresh-faced chap fans remembered from the glory days. Some people suggested he’d be a puppet for the board, but he certainly hasn’t been that. There’s a steely resolve behind the obvious charm.

8 Ralph Hasenhuttl (Southampton)

Anyone schooled in the Klopp style of management is going to be an interesting one to interview, and Hasenhuttl hasn’t disappointed. He’s a breath of fresh air after the likes of whispering Claude Puel. You sense that Hasenhuttl likes a laugh when he’s off camera, too.

9 Marco Silva (Everton)

If brooding intensity and passion are your thing, then Silva may be the nearest thing to Jose Mourinho in the Premier League at the moment. Does that translate into charisma? Well, maybe.

10 Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)

You may think that the old school manners of an English gentleman do not translate into charisma, but with Hodgson, they certainly do. With such a long and varied history in football, his press conferences are a fascinating mix of stories.

11 Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves)

A big man with a big smile, Nuno has a physical as well as charismatic presence in the room. He’s instilled real belief in his team and you suspect Mourinho would rather like him.

12 Steve Bruce (Newcastle)

You can’t be a Man United legend or a Geordie without a bit of personality (where would reality TV shows be without them?). Bruce is honest, endearing, and down to earth and Newcastle fans will see that eventually.

13 Dean Smith (Aston Villa)

Loved by his players, Smith is a salt of the earth character willing to have a joke and be honest in interviews. As an Aston Villa fan, he has the Holte End onside — the next challenge is to impose his personality on a bigger stage.

14 Unai Emery (Arsenal)

It’s hard to be entertaining and charismatic when you don’t yet have the vocabulary to express it; so look out for more from the Arsenal manager as his English improves. So far, however, he appears intense and engaging without the special extra quality which makes the great managers so watchable.

15 Chris Wilder (Sheffield United)

A bit of an unknown in the Premier League but Mr Sheffield United is loved at Bramall Lane and has dragged his team into the top flight. He’ll move up the charisma table as we get to see his passion.

16 Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham)

The dour-faced West Ham boss gets his team playing attractive football but you wouldn’t exactly hire him for a comedy routine. A real football man, yes. Charisma? Let’s say it’s low down on the CV.

17 Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)

He’s got the looks and the intelligence — and players says he’s a hands-on manager with strong man-management skills. But Eddie brings a very straight bat to press conferences and keeps a tight rein on his emotions.

18 Javi Garcia (Watford)

All round nice guy and a very good tactician, Garcia has a reputation as an excellent man-manager too. But judging by his press conferences you wouldn’t want him taking on your best man’s speech.

19 Graham Potter (Brighton)

Appeared sensible and studious at his Brighton unveiling but there could be more to come. He had some pretty out-there ideas during his time as boss of Swedish side Ostersunds.

20 Daniel Farke (Norwich)

A bit harsh this as we haven’t seen him in the Premier League yet. But Farke is famously calm, collected, and organised. Although he was also named the ‘hardest manager in the league’ by one website recently. Maybe we’ll see his personality come through.

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