Klopp, Mazzarri and Simeone: The top five hipster football managers
Jürgen Klopp's success at Borussia Dortmund gave birth to the term 'football hipster'. But now there's a new king
Jürgen Klopp’s success at Borussia Dortmund has brought the term ‘football hipster’ to the fore in recent seasons.
These are football fans who love charismatic, experimental managers willing to adopt unorthodox tactics in the pursuit of glory and eulogise about them sometimes long after their initial success.
Here is a selection of five managers who are – or have already – cemented their place in football hipster folklore.
The king of the hipsters: Diego Simeone
Diego Simeone is in vogue after Atletico Madrid were 3-1 aggregate winners against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final in midweek. The 44-year-old has guided Atletico Madrid to the top of La Liga, and in doing so, unsettled the balance of power in Spain. If all of the football hipsters hadn’t jumped on the Atletico bandwagon already, the last stragglers are now on board. Not only has he managed to usurp Barcelona and Real Madrid, but Simeone has led Atletico to their first European Cup final since 1974. Not many would have predicted such a turnaround since his appointment little over two years ago – unless you’re a football hipster, of course. The former Argentina international is best known among fans of English football for provoking David Beckham in the infamous 1998 World Cup quarter-final. But Simeone’s popularity is soaring, and the forecast looks good for the Atletico manager after the Rojiblancos manager outwitted the Special One. Looking more like a nightclub bouncer with his all black attire and heavily-waxed hair do, here is a taster of Simeone’s philosophical approach to football: “There is not one way of playing football. If we all played the same way it would be very boring”. Deep Diego, very deep.
The founding father: Jürgen Klopp
This time last year, football hipsters were flocking to Borussia Dortmund manager Jürgen Klopp. The German dons chunky black glasses, boasts a blonde mop of hair akin to Shaggy from Scooby Doo and his facial expressions alone provide entertaining viewing. Of course, his Dortmund side aren’t bad either. The 46-year-old led Dortmund to back-to-back Bundesliga successes and a Champions League final during three decorated seasons. But Klopp has been fallen down the hipster pecking order after failing to keep pace with Bundesliga champions Bayer Munich and were sent packing in the Champions League at the quarter-final stage this season. But Klopp remains as popular as ever. He was very much the hipsters’ (or, in truth, every United fans’s) choice to succeed David Moyes. He has ruled himself out of the running – for now. Finally, and perhaps most convincingly, even Zlatan thinks Klopp is hip.
El Loco: Marcelo Biesla
Marcelo Biesla has shuffled out of the European spotlight since leaving Athletic Bilbao in 2012. Nicknamed El Loco, Biesla gained a reputation for being something of a mad professor after adopting a bizarre 3-3-1-3 formation during his time in charge of Chile – it worked, too. But the 58-year-old is best known in Europe for guiding Bilbao to Europa League and Copa del Rey finals in 2012. Biesla’s side missed out on glory in both showpieces but his reputation was enhanced. The Basque side adopted a kamikaze attacking formation which saw the likes of Manchester United toppled en route to the Europa League final before losing to king of the football hipsters, Simeone (and Atletico). However, Pep Guardiola did describe Biesla as the world’s best manager two years ago – a ringing endorsement. But with the rise of Klopp and Simeone, the Argentine has been temporarily forgotten by football hipsters. Biesla should be back on the radar soon, though, after being named as Marseille’s new manager on Friday night.
The Italian hipster: Walter Mazzarri
Walter Mazzarri deserves hipster fame if only for his fashion sense. Is there a more sharply-dressed man in football management? Bologna manager Davide Ballardini may argue differently. Whilst Mazzarri certainly has plenty of style off the pitch, the Italian’s Napoli side were just as stylish on it. Mazzarri’s side adopted a 3-4-3 formation and hit opponents with blistering counter-attacks. It was thrilling football and liking Napoli with their eye-catching light blue team colours was just, well, damn cool. Mazzarri was enjoying great success at Napoli before their breakthrough season with the football hipsters as the 52-year-old put together a side containing the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsik and Edinson Cavani. The trio would soon become a favourite among football hipsters, especially as Napoli beat Manchester City home and away in the Champions League before leaving Chelsea on the brink of elimination at the last-16 stage – the Blues went on to win the competition in 2012. Mazzarri has since swapped Naples for Inter Milan.
Croatia’s Mr Cool: Slaven Bilic
The former West Ham United defender was edgy, and not least because he regularly lit up on the sidelines. A filthy habit and one which irked the Turkish Football Federation, but iconic nevertheless. Slaven Bilic was linked with a host of top Premier League jobs during the height of his success with Croatia, including Tottenham Hotspur. The 45-year-old brought through many of Croatia’s highly-promising Under-21 contingent and was in charge of the country’s most-talented squad since the lofty days of Davor Suker and co, with many tipping his side to impress at Euro 2012. It all started well with a handsome victory over the Republic of Ireland but the Croats failed to sparkle. Bilic is currently in charge of Besiktas, but his day in the sun may yet come.