Many of us have met the story of Will Still thanks to specialized journalist in French football Andrés Onrubia, and so since then we all wait for his weekly tweet reporting that his streak is still alive.
Will Still is 30 years old and is the youngest coach from the top five leagues. his club pays a 25.000 euros fine every game for his coach because he still lacks of the requiring license to be in a Ligue 1 bench. And if that was not enough for all those fans who hate the modern facts, the Belgian admitted himself that the video game Football Manager was key to start his coaching career.
Stade de Reims decided to put him as a substitute coach while they looked for a replacement for first coach up to that point Óscar García Junyent. And just like that Stade de Reims became the random team of the season.
In football we always heard that clubs should look for experienced coaches for difficult situations. However, we can’t forget that football is not like maths, and so here 1+1 does not necessarily equal 2.
The team bounced back thanks to a rookie coach and the unbeaten streak is currently at 19 games in the Ligue 1, which is half of a season without a single defeat. Will Still managed to pick up a draw at the Parc des Princes against Mbappé, Messi and Neymar and he also snatched the win from Monaco on the road.
Will Still is currently the trending coach in Europe and most importantly, he is the fake mirror that many players from the Football Manager look to. Those who fancy about winning three Champions League titles in a row with semi-pro squads.
Pressing as his football basis:
The Belgian coach represents the new generation of coaches that are establishing themselves in both the European and worldwide elite. A curious fact is that most of them were not even professional players before, as it is the case of Will Still, which makes their achievements even more meritorious.
His role made me to deeply think of the current situation of young coaches in Europe, and it is not difficult at all to find another young and successful coach around. The only coach that is having an outstanding streak in his league is Didier Digard, ex-professional player for Betis, Osasuna and his Niza, where he has stayed unbeaten for the last ten fixtures.
Even though some might bet on a positional playing style if they have the ball, most of them rather bet on fast attacks that end up wearing out the opponent’s for their high playing speed.
Young coaches are also winners:
Let’s start focusing on the top tables from the main European leagues. FC Barcelona, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Napoli and PSG are currently the leaders. What do all these teams have in common? All of their coaches are among the youngest within their leagues.
In Spain, Xavi Hernández (43 years old) is only older than Iraola (40years old), one of the most prepared coaches for the future, and Diego Martínez (42 years old), who managed to lead Granada to the Europa League and then all the way to relegation when he left.
Nagelsmann is already considered as someone classic in the Bundesliga despite he is only 35, and Borussia Dortmund will try to snatch the title from him under coach Terzic (40 years old). However, non of them is the youngest in the league, as that honor belongs to Werder Bremen’s coach Ole Werner.
Germany proves once again that they are one of the foundations from European football and mostly of their coaches, as they also have Xabi Alonso (41 years old) at Bayer Leverkusen, Enrico Maaßen (39 years old) at Augsburg or Bo Svensson (43 years old) at Mainz. We can even find Fabian Hürzeler (30 years old) coaching St. Pauli in the second division, where they are one of the best squads in the league.
If you take a look at England, you instantly think of Steve Bruce, Sam Allardyce and Neil Warnock. England was the paradise for the most classic, but now it is not like that anymore.
The Premier League is led by Arsenal, coached by a Mikel Arteta that is the third youngest coach of the competition (40 years old). He is followed by the coaches from the revelation teams: Roberto De Zerbi (43 years old) with Brighton, Marco Silva (45 years old) with Fulham or Eddie Howe (45 years old) with Newcastle.
Furthermore, Kompany is expected to join them next year. His Burnley is the the solid leader of the Championship after switching their playing style with the exit of Sean Dyche, which is why he will more than likely be the youngest coach in the Premier League next season.
Only Italy and France get away from this youth’s tyranny. In France with an almost unbeatable PSG and in Italy with a Napoli that are having a historical year who count on one of the most entertained players to watch in Europe, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Tearing down fake myths:
But young coaches are not only useful for those big and talented squads. There are still a lot of prejudices when choosing to have this kind of coach if you are in the mid-lower table, as he might decided to play offensive and fast football for squads that most of the time are designed to be conservative. However, numbers prove this fake myths wrong.
Let’s set the reference at the age of 45 to add context to the data:
There are 98 teams in the top five European leagues (LaLiga, Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1) and so the same number of coaches in charge. 29 of them are 45 years old or less, and the other 69 surpass that age that we have set as our reference.
Out of these young coaches, only five are currently in relegation (17.29%). However, this number is a little bit distorted, as only Stanković has been the entire season in charge at his club (Sampdoria).
On the other hand, Patrick Kisnorbo has also been in charge for several months at Troyes and he has been unable to change the course of the squad. Lastly, Pelegrino Matarazzo (45 years old) has coached Hoffenheim in five games, but he has not earned a single point yet and his team is still bottom of the table.
However, Rubén Sellés (39 years old) took over a Southampton that were bottom of the table and he has recently earned 7 out of 12 points facing off Manchester United and Chelsea, which would make them as one of the best squads in the Premier League during the last four fixtures.
Meanwhile, Gary Oneil (39 years old) replaced Scott Parker at the beginning of the season and Bournemouth are still in relegation and one of the main candidates to go down along with West Ham and Leicester, even though they can still surpass Everton, who have played one extra game.
This way, the two youngest coaches in the Premier League (Rubén Sellés and Gary Oneil) have managed to bounce back their teams on their race to avoid relegation, which is why, in the end, only three coaches below 45 have their squads in relegation, which results in a surprising 10.34%. That is to say that only 1 out of ten teams that sign a young coach are in relegation.
The percentage of young coaches in relegation (apart from the exceptions of Rubén Sellés and Gary Oneil) is way less than the one among older coaches (18.84%), which is why being afraid of relegation is not a valid excuse to hire these kind of coaches. 10.34% against 18.84%. Is it an enough difference to bet on ‘the rookies’? This way, the age shouldn’t be the key factor to make a decision on a coach hiring, but instead the sporting program that he wants to carry out.
All of this data proves us that, even though Will Still is the perfect example of this trending of young coaches, more are expected to come in the short term in order to dominate the European football. Thank you, Football Manager!
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @StadeDeReims.