GLEN JOHNSON: In the third part of this Career Biography, we expand on our interview from last week with Glen where he talked about the best managers he played under during his playing days.
During Glen Johnson’s extensive career, he played under some of the best managers that football had to offer at the time. Not only do managers play massive roles in how their team performs on the pitch, they are often crucial in shaping the careers of their players. Johnson played under a total of 16 managers, all important in one way or another, and here’s a rundown of some of the most prominent figures.
Johnson states in his BETDAQ blog, ” I wouldn’t have got to where I did without them as each one taught some really valuable things which helped me during my career. Each manager was important in one way or another, but here are the four that I really thought influenced my career.”
Jose Mourinho certainly brought his own brand of managing to the dugout when he swapped Porto for Chelsea in 2004. Johnson was already at Stamford Bridge when the Portuguese arrived, with Claudio Ranieri having just departed from the hot seat. A divisive character for football fans across the country, Mourinho was quick to implement what he wanted from his players both on and off the pitch.
He put his stamp on the club and any critics could be hushed by taking a look at his record. He had arrived from Porto, with whom he had just won consecutive Primeira Liga titles, the country’s main knockout tournament, as well as the Champions League.
Of Mourinho’s arrival, Johnson said, “it was a real learning curve for all of us. His methods were sometimes unique and he was fiery at points, but we all respected him and what he was trying to do.”
To have a coach like Mourinho so early in his career did not go unappreciated, as Johnson acknowledges, “ I was very lucky in that I was still a young player learning my trade and he was brilliant at showing players like myself how we could improve”.
Johnson also notes that the manager always made his players strive for more and not be content with what they had, which is a fundamental Mourinho trait behind the success of his teams across Europe.
Rafael Benitez and Johnson crossed paths at Anfield, with the manager entering what would end up being the last of his six-year tenure on Merseyside. This was the biggest move of Johnson’s career so far, having arrived from Portsmouth.
Despite the limited time the two worked together, Benitez made an impression on Johnson, who hails him as one of the best managers in terms of setting up a team in a certain way.
The Spaniard’s sides weren’t known for flair, but they always did their best to get the job done. His footballing brain was formidable, with Johnson noting, “he was tactically about as astute as they come and every player who played under him knew exactly what was required from them.”
He had steered the club to an FA Cup win and an incredible Champions League victory prior to Johnson’s arrival and, though the pair only worked together for a season, Benitez remains one of Johnson’s key managerial figures during his career.
Another influential manager that Johnson played for also was at Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers was in the Anfield hotseat for the second-half of Johnson’s six years spent at the Reds, which was more than enough time to leave his mark on the England international.
Rodgers had previously worked under Mourinho when the pair were at Chelsea, with Johnson recalling that the Northern Irishman already had the perfect mind for management. Rodgers always wanted to learn and experiment with new methods, keen to find a way of implementing them into his plan at Liverpool.
Johnson speaks of the very structured and efficient training sessions which, more importantly, translated into real quality football on the pitch. He said, “we played some brilliant stuff during that 2013-14 campaign and it was just unfortunate that we couldn’t quite get it over the line. The football we played under Brendan deserved a title.”
The Italian’s arrival as the new England coach was hailed by many, with his hugely impressive list of honours being particularly promising for the Three Lions. To name a few, Capello had previously led his sides to a Champions League, multiple Serie A titles and two La Liga titles.
It’s not hard to believe, then, that someone like Capello makes the list of managers who Johnson regards as most influential on his career, noting, “I thought he did a really good job and for whatever reason things just didn’t quite pan out as we wanted them to. I really enjoyed working with Fabio, though, and I learnt a lot from him.”
Johnson recalls that he always got on well with his national coach, who faced an initial struggle upon arrival in the form of a language barrier. However, when it came to communicating what he wanted from his players on the pitch, everyone knew just what he was trying to say.