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It’s a well-known fact that there are two types of football managers on the touchline. You’re either a ‘tracksuit’ manager or you’re a manager who dresses to impress. Most legendary football managers have a very distinct, unmistakable style that they’ve become known for over the years. But, what would happen if they switched it up?
Would the tracksuit managers benefit from the luxury tailored suits of the well-dressed managers? Or would the drastically different style not work at all? Well, we’ve reimagined what some of those who are firmly on ‘team tracksuit’ would look like in some of the more fashion-forward managers touchline fits.
Well versed in both fashion and football, our in-house stylist, Freddie Kemp, has his say on the football managers new looks.
We’ve gone one step further with the tracksuit-fanatic managers and reimagined them in some of their rival managers’ go-to outfits, to find out if there is room for improvement or if the tracksuit really is their perfect match.
Roy Hodgson sits on the cusp of being a ‘tracksuit manager’ as you’ll usually catch him on the sidelines in trousers and shirt, drowning in an oversized team jacket of some kind. Some would consider his usual look to fit that of a more old-school manager, a style that in-house stylist Freddie Kemp says suits him well.
But Roy’s matchday wardrobe is a little boring, especially in comparison to the likes of Pep Guardiola, who is somewhat of a fashion icon on the sidelines. So, we’ve redressed Roy as Pep and we haven’t left out that oh so famous cardigan!
In-house stylist Freddie Kemp says, “The tapered cuts Pep wears, coupled with the dark tones are a flattering combination that could work nicely on Roy too. The same goes for minimal white trainers and a down coat for a more smart casual look. But, I’d avoid too much layering; the cardigan over the down feels a bit much for Roy – he’s a lowkey guy and keeping it a little more simple would suit him better.”
“Some classic, versatile knitwear would also suit Roy. British heritage brand Sunspel would serve him well, along with well-made, sturdy shoes from Grenson to suit the smarter side of his style. He should avoid anything too bright in colour, or anything heavily patterned if he is considering dressing down; I’d recommend sticking to neutral and dark colours, in simple but more tapered flattering cuts.”
It’s impossible not to associate slick, creative, one-touch attacking football with a manager wearing white casual trainers, maybe some knitwear and an effortlessly cool pair of jeans or chinos. In stark contrast, Roy Hodgson’s style is more passive and his teams fear passing the ball forwards. Freddie says, “Perhaps, dressing more casually may encourage him to loosen up a little, but the likelihood is that he’ll probably just look a bit cooler asking his entire team to get back behind the ball.”
Steve Bruce seems to favour a laid-back, practical style that remains the same almost every game, with dark trousers and a classic team jacket. He dresses exactly in a way that you expect from a manager, focusing on comfort rather than style.
In comparison, Joachim Low tends to dress in more tailored clothes, occasionally adding a pop of colour for some extra interest. Even though Freddie thinks Steve’s normal look works for him, we were curious to see how different he would look if he took some inspiration from Joachim for a more sophisticated touchline look.
Freddie says “the darker colours and more tapered fits would bring an element of sophistication to Steve’s style. The long wool coat in particular stands out as a good option. But, the full swap doesn’t suit him. Instead, I would swap the roll neck and the scarf and go for a simple crew neck as it feels a bit too dressed up and stuffy for Steve. And, as Steve focuses on comfort, a simple black trainer would be a good alternative to the smart shoe.”
If Steve were to change his style ever so slightly, Freddie suggests “his trousers would benefit from a little alteration to make them a more flattering fit. Other than the long wool coat, a classic car coat/mac in dark navy would be a strong spring/summer alternative with knitwear from John Smedley to layer underneath. If wanting to add some texture or a pattern, his best match would be herringbone, dogtooth or very subtle checks.”
We all know that Joachim Low loves a rigid system and his winter art collector style says nothing less than, if you don’t fit with my style, I will take my business elsewhere! Steve is the total opposite and has previously stated that he faces a ‘conundrum’ depending on the opposition. Freddie thinks that “perhaps he lacks the confidence, so maybe a more formal wardrobe upgrade might bring some consistent success.”
Over the years, it’s become a bit of a running joke that Sean Dyche very rarely switches up his style and instead, chooses to wear the same black jacket every match. Like an officer in the armed forces, Sean has a uniform look that he likes to stick to. His shoes are always well polished and his shirt underneath the infamous jacket is crisp.
While there’s nothing wrong with Sean’s look, we wondered how much of a difference it would make if he chose to wear something a little more fashionable and took a page out of Quique Sanchez Flores’s book.
Despite giving him a more smart casual vibe on the touchlines, Freddie just can’t see him in anything more casual and thinks his normal look represents who he is and his style of play which works well for him. Instead of going for an extreme makeover “sticking to coats with a lapel over the high-zip, Superdry-esque style would elevate his normal style a little and add a bit more interest.”
If he were looking for a new pair of shoes, however, Freddie suggests something “with a more rounded toe as I don’t think a pointed toe is very flattering.” With his complexion, Freddie agrees that he suits darkers, muted colours which he’s already got sussed by sticking to mostly black. But, “he should avoid dressing down. The tracksuit look on the touchline isn’t one he’d be able to pull off as well.”
In 2019, Sanchez said about Watford “the most important thing is we are looking for style”. Style is not a word in the Dyche dictionary. Freddie thinks “his managerial approach is much more old-school, lots of shouting and long balls forward which his current style matches to a T - 0 finesse, or panache…”
Marcelo Bielsa is the epitome of a tracksuit manager. The tracksuit king if you will. Sporting the team’s colours and kit at every game, the comfort and movability his clothes provide aids his animated presence on the touchline.
We chose to inspire Bielsa’s new look from Gareth Ainsworth who’s daring attitude, strong head of hair and edgy outfits has caught the attention of many. While Ainsworth can pull off the leather look, is it a style that suits Bielsa or is it too much?
The drastic change of Marcelo’s new look, from tracksuit king to cool and suave, doesn’t quite translate well for him. Although not exactly stylish, the comfortable tracksuit is a look that suits him and his personality on the pitch perfectly. Freddie observes “the guy just loves football and you can tell he’s proud to sport the team colours and kit.”
If he was to change it up, Freddie recommends “some seriously comfy trainers for him in keeping with his current style. Hoka or Salomon would work or some of the Made in the USA or Made in the UK New Balance. Really, he should avoid going smarter as it just will not work on him, keep it comfortable and keep it the same."
Marcelo Bielsa’s personal style is fitting for his addiction to the sport and his managerial style. Freddie agrees that “Bielsa is an Auteur of the campaign with his players as pawns in his huge chess game. On the other hand, Gareth Ainsworth’s rockstar style is very fitting for his collaborative, man-of-the-people style. Nonetheless, Bielsa holds the crown as the tracksuit king and his managerial style adheres to that completely.”
Sam Allardyce keeps his style in the classic old school British managers way with a shirt and tie and their team's puffa coat. As a pretty imposing figure on the touchline, he doesn't need to do a lot to stand out. While his regular look is perfectly fine, we can definitely see Sam upping his suit game a little.
This is why we’ve taken inspiration from Julian Nagelsmann who opts for a modern, classic look with slim/skinny tailoring, mismatched blazer and waistcoat combo.
There’s no denying that a well-cut suit will always be flattering. But, Freddie believes that “once you add too much pattern and too tight a fit it quickly goes the other way”. So, keeping the trouser and waistcoat the same with a contrasting balzer is the best way to approach this style. Although you can’t beat a proper three-piece!
While Sam’s look does already work for him, Freddie says “He could do with executing the basics a little better though - and losing the puffa coat occasionally. For example, your tie should just hit the top of your trousers or belt buckle. A couple of made-to-measure or bespoke suits from Savile Row would really elevate his dominant presence on the touchline.”
Sam’s current ensemble reflects his straight-talking, no-frills managerial style pretty well. As Freddie says “he doesn’t want people to stop and gaze at this 3-piece suit, he wants his players to listen to his simple demands! Whereas Nagelsmann has a versatile managerial style, but also secretly still wants to be on the pitch playing with his mates.”
With an obvious attachment to baseball caps and almost always sporting a full tracksuit look, it’s safe to say that Tony Pulis is very much fond of his usual style. But, Freddie thinks that Tony’s always looked a little out of place in a tracksuit.
When you look at Diego Simeone’s matchday outfits though, Tony pales in comparison. So, we took inspiration from the sleek and sophisticated black suits Diego often wears to help spice up Tony’s look.
As Tony can be pretty animated on matchday, we would assume he’s just not comfortable in a suit, plus it would mean having to sacrifice his beloved cap. But, saying that, Freddie thinks “this new look could work quite well on Tony. There’s nothing too daring here and all-black is flattering for most people. I would definitely lose the tie though, it could quite easily look a little morbid.
“I don’t think Tony would want to completely lose the tracksuit, however. So, I’d like to see him try a chunky, textured knit, maybe something from Oliver Spencer and pair this with some tapered tracksuit bottoms for a sharper look, the baseball cap and some slightly more lifestyle-rescue trainers. By just making the fit a little better will go a long way.”
While his regular tracksuit and cap combo certainly suits Tony’s long ball style of football and non-stop touchline shouting, Freddie says “his one-dimensional tactics won’t match his new designer suit. You can be sure to see his jacket and tie rippling in the wind as he briskly wanders up and down the touchline.”
Maurizio Sarri’s tracksuit style is pretty iconic on the touchline. We often see him sporting a loose polo shirt with tracksuit bottoms and trainers which Freddie thinks works well for him and helps reflect his relaxed, Italian nature.
For entirely different reasons, Gareth Southgate’s wardrobe also throws out some iconic looks for the touchline too. With his sharp style and instantly recognisable waistcoat that he’s very well-known for, his style is very British/Heritage which suits him well. But, would a new look inspired by Southgate work for Sarri, or would it be uncomfortably different?
While this particular Chelsea tracksuit wasn’t Sarri’s finest look, generally, his usual outfits do suit him and he’s definitely one to do things his own way. Freddie thinks that the sharper style of Gareth wouldn’t really translate well for Sarri, but, “if he just consistently gets the top right, he’ll be onto a winner!”
“An elevation Sarri could try would be an Orlebar Brown polo shirt. It’s well within his comfort zone but the fit and fabrics will be that added sprezzatura that I think he often tried to embody. With his relaxed nature, anything too loose can end up looking sloppy so he needs to avoid that.”
Along with his own brand of football ‘Sarriball’, Sarri appears to be a trusting manager but is very much a tactician of the game. Freddie says “if he changed his style to a Southgate-esque waistcoat, I fear it would become less about tactics and more about looking good in a shiny suit, win or lose.”
Neil Warnock often opts for a very simple tracksuit with old-school boots that looks as if he’s always ready and willing to sub himself onto the pitch. His look has a classic, relaxed managerial aesthetic but can be easily jazzed up into a more smart casual yet still comfortable vibe.
When inspired by Ronald Koeman’s simple but sharper fashion choices, with the crisp shirt, chinos and tasseled loafers, we think Neil could take a few tips from him to help smartern his look on the field.
Admittedly, a light blue shirt and navy chinos is a look that will pretty much suit anyone, so, of course, it’ll work well for Neil too. Although, Freddie says “I definitely can’t see Neil in tassel loafers without socks, but a more structured boat shoe with a pair of dark grey socks could work much better for him.”
“When it comes to Neil’s normal look, I'm not a fan of the full tracksuit paired with a shirt. Instead, it should be a sweatshirt or polo. If he wanted to keep the shirt element, then committing to the new style above would be a good move for him. Emmett shirts have a great selection to help him smarten his look and as for the chinos, Officine Generale does a flattering tapered cut, similar to the one Koeman is sporting.”
Warnock is famous for telling players, pundits and specifically, referees how it is, and Freddie thinks “while many refs and fellow managers find it hard to take his Sunday-league persona seriously, swapping his tracksuit for some ‘yacht-flair’ fashion may encourage people to give him the respect he deserves.”
But what about these fashionista iconic looks that grace the sidelines? We often see a wide range of unique styles on the sidelines and our expert stylist has given his thoughts and opinions on some of football’s best-dressed managers. We’ve also given you our top tips on how to recreate these styles yourself.
Pep is someone that keeps his style simple and sharp with a smart casual aesthetic that seems to be missing from managers in the Premier League. The only elements that Freddie isn’t really a fan of is “the oversized cardigans and scarves. When he keeps it simple with a t-shirt, crew neck knit, black jeans and trainers it’s pretty killer.”
“There’s a minimal scandi element to Pep’s style with a focus on simple quality over garish statement pieces which work brilliantly for him. Trends swing from one extreme to the other, but his slim and tapered cuts that aren’t too tight or too loose are pretty timeless. He’s also very methodical with his dressing. It’s always dark colours and very subtle textures of patterns, if any.”
We’ve noticed that Pep chooses high-quality fabrics in good cuts with a monochrome palette, which makes it easy to put looks together as pretty much everything always goes well together. While most of what Pep wears isn’t obviously branded, Freddie says “I love it when he pulls on the occasional Stone Island knit. He definitely isn’t one to follow trends, but he knows what works for him and sticks to it. This makes him one of the best dressed on the circuit with his clothing portraying a methodical, efficient and elegant persona.
Julian Nagelsmann has a very bold sense of style and we’ll always get behind self-expression through clothing. That being said, it’s not a style Freddie is particularly fond of because “for me, the cuts are a little too slim and cropped and the patterns and contrasting elements are too bold. But, if he comes to Tottenham, he can wear whatever he wants.”
Julian’s style is very contemporary with ‘laddish’ elements. The cut of his tailoring leans more towards skinny than slim, which Freddie thinks “given his athletic build, that can be accentuated and look tight/uncomfortable.” Over the last decade, this desire to showcase tailoring in a more flamboyant way has been led by street-style, captured at shows like Pitti Uomo in Florence. Freddie says “It’s epitomised by contrasting waistcoats, bold colours and patterns, slimmer cuts and no socks and there are a lot of these elements in Nagelsmann’s style.”
“He does lead quite a trend-led look and portrays a confident, daring and modern persona. Personally, I feel that tailoring always balances itself out, landing on cuts fitted to the wearer as opposed to everyone adopting the favoured runaway cut at the time.”
There’s no denying that Scott dresses well. He does a good job of bringing some more relaxed pieces to a smart style, but he does in a clever way that often goes unnoticed. For example, Freddie has noticed that “he often wears unstructured, knitted blazers that almost look like cardigans. He also has that striking, padded blazer that’s very Cuccinelli-esque. He also tends to choose a cutaway collar that suits his face shape too. It can sometimes be the very subtle changes that make all the difference.”
Scott usually sticks to staple, classic colours for the most part with the occasional contrast in a lighter, more pastel colour. Freddie thinks “this neutral palette allows for versatility when experimenting with different textures/fabrics. If he doesn’t already, I think he should be shopping at Thom Sweeny to really take his look to the next level. It’s also important to mention that he has an excellent head of hair that’s never out of place.”
“It’s hard to say if Scott is following current fashion trends or not as his sharp tailoring, albeit it’s not everyone, is a style that has stood the test of time. He’s certainly added some contemporary elements with the softer shapes and fabrics. It’s clear that’s definitely someone who takes a lot of pride in his appearance and within this style, he pulls it off well, giving off the persona of someone who is aspirational, confident, strong and precise.”
Joachim Low’s style is super simple, formal but laid back in the way he wears it. He generally opts for a loose-fitting trouser which gives off a bit of an oversize ‘90s tailoring vibe. Although Freddie thinks that this could be completely unintentional.
When it comes to his use of colours, fabrics and textures, Freddie says that “Low tends to stick to darker colours, something that works very well for him, with the occasional white shirt thrown in for good measure. He does seem to play it safe with different fabrics and texture and doesn’t tend to stray too far from the loose-fitting trousers and relaxed fit shirt.”
“It’s very clear that Low knows exactly what he likes and is going to stick with it regardless of trends. His clothing portrays a relaxed, confident, laid back and comfortable persona. Trends are definitely not something he pays too much attention to. That being said, he is known to wear Hugo Boss, a well-respected brand, so it would be wrong to say that he is completely detached from fashion.”
Carlos Corberan is another football manager who knows exactly what works for him. Freddie is a big fan of his look and says “he opts for more slim-fit styles, something that works perfectly on his smaller frame. And, it looks as though he focuses more on timeless basics as opposed to garish branded items that tend to be one-hit wonders in a wardrobe.”
Much like Pep, Carlos has a bit of minimalist scandi element to his style that we would describe as smart casual. With his use of fabrics and colours, Freddie would say that “Corberan plays it safe, sticking to a more neutral & monochrome palette. When it comes to patterns and textures, again, he opts for simplicity over anything else, wearing almost no patterns outside of his team kit.”
“I wouldn’t say that Carlos follows a specific trend with his fashion choices, if anything he chooses timeless styles that have always been ‘cool’ and portrays a cool, relaxed and safe persona through them. But, his love of New Balance trainers is clear and they absolutely work with the rest of his style.”
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