It’s the silverware more coveted than even the Transfer Window Trophy, or the Community Shield. (Note to managers: there is no actual cup for this. Or the Transfer Window.)
FashionBeans has used ‘Optical Index’ stats – i.e. we’ve looked at some pictures on the internet – to scout the Premier League bosses who most dress like one. Of the 20 coaches currently playing musical chairs in the Prem, these five qualify for the Champions League of touchline style.
Well, maybe one of them would only make the Europa League…
1. Pep Guardiola
Guardiola is the managerial and sartorial golden boy, even if the British press are waiting with barely concealed glee for him to fall flat, with his newfangled ‘false nines’ and ‘tactics’. Although to be fair, he’s not exactly helping himself by trying to play three at the back with Aleksander Kolarov.
The new Man City gaffer remains the Barcelona of best-dressed managers but he’s not without his foibles wardrobe-wise either. His slender build and penchant for extremely slim-fitting clothes can leave him looking a little ‘pinched’, and occasionally even exposed on the flanks – like that time at Bayern Munich when his trousers tore down one side, revealing more than the book Pep Confidential (which is a ripping yarn, by the way).
Guardiola also insists on wearing a belt with his suit, which is more overcautious than deploying a double pivot and splits you in half optically. If your suit trousers fit, then you shouldn’t need a belt. And ideally, they should have side fasteners rather than belt loops.
We’re being more critical than Arsenal ‘Fan’ TV though. Pep’s top of the league.
2. Antonio Conte
For those fair-weather football fans not tuned into BT Sport midweek, this summer’s European Championships were a first proper look at Conte on the touchline. The former Juventus midfield general cajoled an Italian side that could be generously described as ‘workmanlike’ through to the quarter finals by the power of gesticulation alone.
The Euros also introduced us to Conte’s nice line in tailoring. Now Chelsea boss, he compared his appraisal of the Blues squad to a suit-maker trying to find the perfect fit – which is encouraging for supporters as it’s a concept that he has clearly grasped. Like Italy, Conte’s rigs are nothing spectacular. But like many Italians he seems to have been born with a higher base level of style along with a natural instinct for grinding out clean sheets.
Conte is a particular fan of the tone-on-tone dark shirt and tie, which give him a vaguely murderous air of mafia hitman. (See also Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.)
Then there’s that thatch, which is mysteriously luscious given that, towards the end of his playing career, he was more monk-like than his Juve teammate Zinedine Zidane. A (very good) hair transplant is suspected, but Conte’s taken a vow of silence.
3. José Mourinho
The Special One arrived at Chelsea in 2004 with matching swag to coordinate with his swagger, even if the nickname that has stuck to him tighter than a man-marker ever since was a misquote. (He actually said, “I think I am a special one.”)
With his Armani overcoat, rakish scarf and Clooney-esque coiffure, Mourinho inspired even the most cynical and jaded of tabloid football hacks to pen paeans to the suave continental’s personal style.
But while celebrated more enthusiastically than that late Porto equaliser at his now home of Old Trafford, the Portuguese’s dress sense is in fact as pragmatic as his style of play. He sticks exclusively to muted colours like navy, grey and black with the discipline of a textbook Mourinho away performance. Or at least he did until he moved to the Red Devils.
He’s still got it, though – in the wardrobe department, at least. Man United might have been pumped 4-0 by his former employers (now managed by Conte) at the weekend, but Mourinho could take some scant consolation from the fact that at least one of his outfits looked good.
4. Arsène Wenger
The long-serving Arsenal manager is as consistently elegant as his press conference bon mots.
Unlike many of his less mature peers, Wenger manages to wear a suit and tie – courtesy of the club’s official suit supplier, Duchamp London – without looking like an errant Grange Hill schoolboy, or a footballer on trial. And unlike his team, he doesn’t overcomplicate: dark suit, white shirt, red tie, perhaps a dark knit.
Fourth-place trophies and parsimoniousness aside, Wenger is particularly renowned for his outerwear, which is inexplicably difficult to fasten and often likened to a sleeping bag – or less kindly still, a bin bag. Not exactly the height of chic, you might say – to which we would reply: “Au contraire, oversized down jackets are very Raf Simons autumn/winter 2017.” Although we might not say that too loudly in the pub before kick-off.
Besides, the Frenchman could have worn an actual refuse sack for the last two decades and he would still qualify for inclusion on the basis of the astonishing fashion shoot that he did with L’Équipe’s Sport & Style supplement last year. En. Fleek.
5. Bob Bradley
That sound you can hear is the barrel being scraped. Seriously, selecting five genuinely well-dressed Premier League managers is more best-of-a-bad-bunch than selecting an eleven-a-side team from The Dirty Dozen.
Leicester City’s Claudio Ranieri can look dapper, while a trawl of Google Image search results reveals that Watford’s Walter Mazzarri has worn a pocket square in the past. (Is it just us or does he bear more than a passing resemblance to Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock?) If you squint then West Brom’s Tony Pulis could’ve copped the latest Palace drop.
But we’re sticking our neck out with Swansea’s recently appointed Bob Bradley. This is entirely based on his debut against Arsenal: a normcore black jumper – or sweater, as the former USA coach would call it – and slacks that made him look like a cross between Steve Jobs and JK Simmons in Whiplash. Which is pretty much an ideal combination for a football manager: inspirational genius meets arse-clenchingly terrifying disciplinarian.
Besides, Bradley’s all-black-everything game plan attracted criticism from no less an authoritative pundit than Gary ‘Party Shirt’ Lineker. So he must be doing something right.
Is there more flair on show here than playing a whole game of FIFA 17 solely using the right control stick? Or did you quit halfway through in frustration? Compile your own ultimate five-a-side team of best-dressed Premier League managers in the comments below.