The Managers Taking Double Roles in Club and National Team

Managers with successful double roles in the club and national team at the same time are still uncommon in football history.

Being a manager for both the club and the national team is quite a task. It is quite unlikely for the gaffer to gain success on both teams, although it is not impossible. Several figures had the opportunity to guide the national team while still in charge of their clubs, or vice versa. However, only a few of them were able to succeed in such dual roles.

Brazil had tried it with Fluminense boss, Fernando Diniz. He was named Seleção‘s head coach in the summer of 2023 on a one-year contract. Unfortunately, his international career was abysmal, with Neymar and his teammates losing three times to Uruguay, Colombia, and Argentina in the 2026 World Cup qualifying tournament. They even sit sixth on the table with only seven points from six games. On the contrary, he won the Copa Libertadores 2023 in December for his club.

Recently, Napoli appointed Slovakian national team boss Francesco Calzona to improve their form and campaign till the end of the season. Calzona is not new to Il Partenopei, having worked as a coach for Maurizio Sarri (2015–2018) and Luciano Spalletti in his first year. It remains to be seen how Calzona’s time in Naples goes ahead of EURO 2024, where he will lead Slovakia in the summer tournament. Perhaps these names will inspire him to succeed rather than follow in Diniz’s footsteps.

Here is a look at some other coaches who have managed a club and an international team at the same time:

Sir Alex Ferguson

The former Manchester United manager was still in Aberdeen when he was promoted to Scotland national team manager in September 1985, following the sudden departure of his superior, Jock Stein. At the time, the Tartan Army had earned one spot in the 1986 FIFA World Cup intercontinental playoff against Australia.

He managed to guide Kenny Dalglish and co to beat the Socceroos 2-0 on aggregate to secure a berth in Mexico in 1986. Sadly, Scotland was hapless at the group stage, as they were only able to pick up one point in three games. The disappointing result led to his resignation afterwards.

Nonetheless, his campaign with Aberdeen in the 1985/86 season was relatively successful. Sir Alex helped them win the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup, despite finishing fourth in the league. He eventually joined Manchester United in November 1986.

Rinus Michels

He is undoubtedly the greatest manager in the Netherlands, as he is the only one who has won a major international title for De Oranje at EURO 1988. Michels is also regarded as the inventor of total football.

During his long managerial career, he was at one point named the manager for a club and his country. In March 1974, Michels took charge of the Netherlands to prepare for their World Cup campaign while he was still at the helm of Barcelona. During that season, he led the Catalan side to their first La Liga title in 14 years. Unfortunately, the former Ajax manager was unable to replicate Blaugrana’s success in the summer. Despite playing attractively, his team lost to the host Germany in the final. Michels ended his first reign in the Netherlands and then continued his spell in Spain.

He was the manager who led Uruguay to World Cup glory in Maracanã after thumping the host Brazil in the 1950 FIFA World Cup. He also guided La Celeste to fourth place four years later in Switzerland. During his first stint as the national team head coach from 1946 to 1955, López also took charge of Penarol in 1952.

The Montevideo-born gaffer was able to win the Uruguay top division league title twice in a row, in 1953 and 1954. The manager who began his career as a medical staffer in Central Español was the understudy of Alberto Suppici, the man behind Uruguay’s victory in the 1930 FIFA World Cup.

Guillermo Stábile

His name was probably better known as the first top scorer in FIFA World Cup history, in 1930. Stábile actually had a more successful managerial career. He was in charge of the Argentina national team for 19 years.

The former Argentine forward began his tenure in 1939 and left the post after the 1958 FIFA World Cup, when Albiceleste slumped to a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Czechoslovakia and failed to progress to the knockout stage. However, during his long reign, he held the record for winning the most titles as a manager in Copa America history. Stábile lifted the trophy six times: in 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1955, and 1957.

The former Napoli and Genoa man in the 1930s was also at the helm of not only one but three clubs during his tenure on the national team: San Lorenzo, Estudiantes, Huracan, and Racing Club. He won the Argentina Cup with Huracán in 1944 and three consecutive league titles with Racing Club from 1949 to 1951.

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