At Elite Teams, a shrunken view of what a coach looks like

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All of Gallardo’s success, so far, has come in South America. He won a league championship with the Nacional in Uruguay and was rewarded with a position at River Plate, one of the biggest clubs in the world by standards, an environment as impatient and demanding as anywhere else. There he delivered the Copa Libertadores twice.

But while big European clubs have no problem naming Argentines – several of Gallardo’s compatriots hold top positions in European football, including Pochettino and Diego Simeone of Atlético Madrid – they have long felt that the success did not translate easily in the Old World.

Sometimes that fear was well placed: Carlos Bianchi first turned Vélez Sarsfield and then Boca Juniors into the best teams in Latin America, but struggled to make an impact in Rome and then, a decade later, in the Atlético. Others, like Marcelo Bielsa, have taken the plunge a little more easily.

This skepticism, however, no longer applies only to South Americans. European superclubs increasingly see an ocean all around them. Gallardo is not the only manager who could have expected to get the call from one of the football giants by now. He is not the only one to have built a body of work that should make him a convincing candidate.

There’s Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, who has made his club a powerhouse in the Netherlands and is on the cusp of his second Champions League deep run. There is Rúben Amorim, ten years younger, who has already put an end to Sporting Lisbon’s two decades of waiting for a Portuguese title. There’s Marco Rose, who went from Red Bull Salzburg to Borussia Mönchengladbach and then to Dortmund.

These are the coaches Barcelona or Manchester United should seek to appoint now. These are the coaches that Real Madrid or Juventus could have approached this summer. These are quite possibly the next big things.


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