The World Cup Project – Episode 5 – What Does It Take to Manage a National Team?

So far on The World Cup Project, you’ve heard insightful discussions about some of the best national teams participating at this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia. But, what does it take to manage one of these teams? Is it different than running a club team? Are there certain tactics that work better in international play than league competition? To get to the bottom of these questions, we reached out to PSG Talk contributor Louis Jacques who is an up-and-coming coach himself and offers insightful commentary on managers at the World Cup.

Jacques fell in love with football in London where he grew up but now resides in Paris where he is a Paris Saint-Germain season ticket holder. During his younger days, he quickly discovered that playing the game wasn’t in his future but his vocal nature on the touchline sparked an interest in coaching. After receiving a license from UEFA, Jacques began coaching an Under-18 amateur side, an age group he says is the most fun to coach.

Host Marc Damon and Jacques transition the conversation to managing in the World Cup and discuss why international coaches need to be a little crazy, a little two-faced if you will, in order to pump up their squads for qualifiers and tournament time while also looking calm and in control on the touchline. For some of the top managers in the world, the question always comes down to whether or not to pick the best players available or the ones who play the best together as a unit. Which is best?

The duo also discusses the national teams for Belgium and Denmark, two countries close to Jacques heart. Is this the year Belgium finally play up to their talent and reach the final? The hopes of Denmark essentially falls on the shoulders of Christian Eriksen. Can they make it out of a group with France?

Winning the World Cup is one of the hardest things to do, which is evident from the fact that only a select few nations have actually won it. Top-flight talent is obviously important but tactics and bringing a group of individuals together to play as a team is vital. You can’t be like England and show up to do a job, you need to be more like Uruguay and show up to play for your country and be prepared to leave it all on the pitch. One way to do this is for a manager to drill into the mind of each of his players the importance of the World Cup and the fact they may only play in one or two tournaments at their peak. Stressing the importance of the moment is what great managers do in order to get the kind of performance needed to make a deep run.

If you enjoy tactics, World Cup analysis, and insightful commentary about football in general, this is a must-listen episode.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast (iTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher) to receive every episode of The World Cup Project. The next episode will be available on May 18 and we will be talking with Carl-Oscar Källström about VAR, officiating, and the Sweden national team. Talk to you then!

Posted by Ed

Ed is the founder of PSG Talk. When he's not blogging about Paris Saint-Germain he's usually in the backyard practicing his Zlatan scorpion kicks.