The international break has finally passed, and save for a few supporters who make time for meaningless international friendlies or Euro qualifiers with predetermined results (thanks to East Asian gambling rackets), most fans have pulled through their painful week without meaningful soccer. While it was tempting to acknowledge adult responsibilities and confront the listlessness of our own lives, where we use the sport to placate a lack of direction and a perpetual sense of melancholy, it’s time we got back to club soccer, especially when the greatest threat to the sport’s health continues unabated.
Concussions, racism, sexism, corruption, the growing detachment between clubs and their communities — there are plenty of obstacles waiting to confront the sport in a major way. But for all the doomsday prophecies that trail these topics, the greatest threat is one the media has chosen to ignore. Whether that’s through ignorance or as a member of a unified cadre of corruption is unclear. What is clear, however, is that silence begets silence, and it’s time to break through the glass and talk about how badly dressed managers are killing the sport.
Tracksuits, sweater vests, over-sized ties, puffy jackets, ball caps, ill-fitting suits, sneakers, floppy collars. Backsweat. The majority of modern soccer managers look like they’re fresh from a trip to JC Penney to pick up clothes for their high school internship, and guess what: They didn’t let their mom help them in the dressing room.
Let’s take a look at the worst offenders:
While it would be reasonable to view a lack of fashion sense as more a personal flaw than an epidemic spreading from league to league, soccer fashion functions in a manner similar to trickle down economics. Mistakes trickle down from managers to players, with each mismatched jacket-pants combo and tracksuit providing a point of reference for developing prospects.
This makes Arséne Wenger one of the greatest criminals in the sport. Entrusted with a handful of the most talented youngsters in soccer, Arséne Wenger has been anything but a positive role model. From the puffy jacket to the over-sized polo and the functional but frightfully offensive rain coat, each fashion mistake by Arséne Wenger pushes Danny Welbeck one step closer to buying a designer leather skirt for men.
Shame on you, Arséne.
If there’s any truth in the phrase “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” the Colorado Rapids’ head coach must be itching for a job in a grocery store stockroom.
With over-sized sleeves, a plethora of unbuttoned buttons and a sweaty sheen that screams “Bro, this party is sick, where are my stunner shades,” Mastroeni looks like he’s just walked out of a Freshman Rush event and is going to need someone to play that song again because he LOVES LMFAO.
Seriously, though, scientific studies have probably proven the link between fashion sense and success in sports, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Mastroeni’s talented Rapids team will fail to make the MLS playoffs. When you’ve got a manager that dresses like a 17-year-old after a strong sesh of King’s Cup, how are you supposed to feel motivated when he makes you run laps after losses?
Tony Pulis wears monogrammed jackets, which prompts so many fascinating questions. Does he change in the dressing room with his players? Is he worried he’ll mix up clothes with members of the starting XI? Does he have fits of forgetfulness where he forgets his name? Did he go to school with a Tommy Poulsen, and now he feels he has to reclaim his initials on a grand scale?
Tony Pulis is not a player, nor a child out for a day at the stadium, nor a person who has a legitimate reason to monogram his clothes. Tony Pulis also wears track pants three sizes too small. And a ball cap.
Tony Pulis might have a proven ability to make teams overachieve, but at what cost?
Regularly pointed to as a prime example of a tactician willing to take risks in attack, Marcelo Bielsa is surprisingly primitive in terms of fashion sense. With tracksuits that match from top to bottom, Bielsa looks like he’s just walked off the set of The Royal Tenenbaums, and he’s forgotten to return his costume.
It’s not just the tracksuits though, so much as the pants tucked into his sneakers, the lanyards, and the laughter-inducing poses he makes on the pitch.
Does this photo scream internationally recognized tactical genius or grandfather dressed for a walk and early morning wall push-ups?
Take a flaw from each of the previous managers, combine them in a bowl, mix in a bit of feathered hair and a reckless sense of confidence, and you have Benfica’s manager, Jorge Jesus.
It’s astounding the level to which Jorge Jesus challenges expectations in fashion. Coaches can’t wear tracksuits, right? Wrong.
Well, they can’t wear puffy coats over tracksuits, right? Wrong again.
In that case, he definitely can’t have his clothes monogrammed, right? Yes, yes he can.
And he can also add in feathered hair and a scarf that says ‘I’m worth it.’
On second thought, Jorge Jesus may dress so badly he dresses well. I need to lie down.