The term director of football is reportedly a ‘continental thing’ or at least that is what much of the press and impassioned Brit’s would tell you. In fact nothing could be further from the truth as the term ‘director of football’ is almost exclusively used in the UK.
Sporting director, technical director, managing director or sports recruitment specialist are more common on the continent and it is a position highly respected across The Channel. In the UK the role has often been scorned at and the appointment of many different styles of ‘director of football’ at clubs has left many very confused as to what the job role intends to achieve. Clive Woodward for instance was not so much a director of football at Southampton as he was a consultant on training techniques and Frank Arnesen of Tottenham and Chelsea fame focused almost solely on bringing in talented young players.
Recently there has been a high profile appointment in this position as Manchester City have announced that Txiki Begiristain has become their new director of football following on from the technical director role he had at Barcelona for seven years. The difference in these roles is simply habitual semantics and his role will be similar to that in which he had at Barca, as the go-between for manager and board; so that Roberto Mancini can focus on coaching his first team stooges the day-to-day running of the club, especially when it comes to contract renewals and player recruitment will be down to the 48-year-old Spaniard.
What does this mean for Manchester City? What it essentially means is they have just appointed one of the best at this job in the past decade, continuing their tradition of acquiring the best. While in charge at Barcelona he oversaw the acquisitions of several big names such as Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho and Deco and was instrumental in convincing them that Barca was the right place for them, ahead of competition from other leading clubs. He helped bring in Edgar Davids when Barcelona were struggling in his first season at the club, a decision that reaped rewards when the Dutchman acted as the catalyst in a Catalan resurgence.
However it is not only the ready-made stars that he has attracted but he has also overseen the signings of little known talents such as a 17-year-old Pedro from Tenerife-based side San Isidro, a 24-year-old Yaya Toure from Monaco and Sergio Busquets from Unio Jabac in 2005.
He also played a huge part in the diplomatic issues that surround the promotion of players from the ‘B’ team; a feat achieved by none other than Lionel Messi under his stewardship. While some will talk about the big names he will be able to tempt to the club that is a given. With the money City has to offer big name signings are always likely. It may be the little things however that form the biggest part of the Manchester City puzzle in years to come under the new old-Barca regime.
What do you think Txiki Begiristain brings to Manchester City?
image: © jeroen_bennink