Xabi Alonso a future Liverpool boss? Raul at Real Madrid and Xavi with Barcelona? What to expect from UEFA Pro license class of 2019

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Xabi Alonso

The class of 2019 is pretty special.

Last week saw Xavi HernandezRaul GonzalezXabi Alonso and Esteban Cambiasso graduate from legendary players to rookie coaches.

All four, icons in their own right, completed the UEFA Pro license together which has opened the doors to pursue management careers.

The nucleus of a golden generation, the quartet have intrinsic knowledge gained from storied playing careers to take with them into coaching.

But what can we expect from the class of 2019 on the sidelines and how might their experience under some of the world’s best tutors impact their style?


Played for

Real Madrid, Schalke, Al Sadd, New York Cosmos and Spain

Notably managed by

Vicente del Bosque, Jupp Heynckes, Guus Hiddink, Fabio Capello, Luis Aragones

Current role

Real Madrid Castilla manager

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What to expect

The Real Madrid suit is being tailored for Raul in La Fabrica. Los Blancos cottoned onto a managerial style which fits them after the success of having groomed Zinedine Zidane for the senior role, and while Raul is unlikely to replace his former team-mate anytime soon, it is a matter of when, not if he does.

The 41-year-old is somewhat mirroring his emergence as Real Madrid player as a manager, initially taking charge of the under-15 side last season before moving on to head up the under-18s and replacing the sacked Alvaro Benito.

Having completed his Pro license, Raul has assumed the Castilla position full-time for 2019/20.

So what can we expect? Little can actually be discerned about Raul’s coaching philosophy but time with the Castilla should allow the Spaniard to implement his style.

According to his former boss, Jorge Valdano, Raul is “more German than Brazilian in his football taste with a Castilian seriousness”.

One trait which hallmarked Raul as a player is that he was a very intelligent striker and smart in an understated sense. In the media, he was respectful and dignified – something we can certainly expect to be translated into his coaching.

And respect is a thread which will knit his philosophy together because winning at all costs is not his mentality.

Speaking to the UEFA Grassroots Conference recently, Raul said: “I feel it’s important to have very high ethical standards.

“There are beautiful ways of winning a match, and there are other ways, and these are not my ways.

“Respect is part of my being. You have to be connected with your own values and I will always try to be connected with things that I think are good in football, and try to leave aside what is negative.”


Played for

Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Spain

Notably managed by

Rafael Benitez, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola, Luis Aragones, Vicente del Bosque

Current role

Real Sociedad B manager

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What to expect

Given the illustrious list of managers he has worked with, the classical styles of each one and his understanding of the game as a successful player in three major leagues, Alonso the manager is an enticing proposition.

Speaking to the Coach’s Voice for their excellent Masterclass series, Alonso’s explanation of his roles at Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich gave an illustration of his acumen.

And no doubt all of his previous clubs will be keenly watching his progress because Alonso left an imprint at each one as an elegant deep-lying playmaker and organiser.

It’s fitting, though, that he takes his first major step into coaching where it began as a player in San Sebastian.

The 37-year-old will be Real Sociedad’s B manager next season, meaning he will be in the opposite dugout to Raul with Real’s Castilla also lining up in the Segunda B, Spain’s third tier.

Alonso does so after guiding Real Madrid’s Infantil A outfit to an undefeated season with the under-13 side claiming the Division de Honor Juvenil.

But which identity will be his coaching face? Will it be the intricate defensive nuance of Rafael Benitez? The artful pragmatism of Mourinho? Perhaps he will twin the programmed possession game of Pep Guardiola given their likeness as players?

Again, it’s difficult to assess what philosophy he will trace at the moment, but what can’t be denied is that Alonso has all the tools to develop into a successful manager.


Played for

Barcelona, Al Sadd and Spain

Notably managed by

Louis van Gaal, Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola, Luis Aragones and Vicente del Bosque

Current role

Al Sadd manager

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What to expect

Xavi’s football religion is clear – the church of Cruyff.

There is an element of ambiguity with the other students that does not exist with Xavi.

A disciple of Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona icon emerged as the greatest exponent of the ‘Tika-Taka’ movement as he developed into arguably the best centre-midfielder we’ve ever seen.

The teachings of Guardiola during his playing career will undeniably be carried through as a manager.

In past interviews he’s said as much, explaining how Guardiola “marked me the most”.

“It’s what I want to convey, I’ve grown up like that, I’ve really enjoyed this style, we’ve won with this style, Barca and the national team and, therefore, I think it’s the best style to play football,” he told Marca earlier this year.

His bind to possession-based football could be his undoing as Xavi clearly won’t have the tactical fluidity of other managers.

But we will get an early indication of his coaching potential as the takes the reins of defending Qatar Stars League champions Al Sadd next season.

Still, it’s hard to find a more intellectual player than Xavi, so doubting his ability to adjust is extremely harsh.

It must not be forgotten as well that Xavi is shrewdly showing the same degree of patience on the ball with his coaching career.

Despite the allure of managing Barcelona, the 39-year-old has said that target is much further down the line with Al Sadd and possibly even the Qatar national team for the World Cup in 2022 the first signposts on his path.


Played for

Independiente, River Plate, Real Madrid, Inter, Leicester City, Olympiacos and Argentina

Notably managed by

Vicente del Bosque, Roberto Mancini, Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez, Marcelo Bielsa

Current role

N/A, but he was previously a coach for Colombia

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What to expect

Cambiasso is bald so automatically in management terms, he holds an advantage considering the success of Zinedine Zidane and Guardiola.

All jokes aside, the Argentine’s cerebral nature means he could well be the most successful of the prospective coaches analysed here.

And his tutors are some of the best around having spent time working with Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez and Marcelo Bielsa.

However, the early signs are that he won’t be another Bielsa-inspired coach given the Leeds United boss once remarked that ‘if football was played by robots, he would win’ while Cambiasso on the other hand, told Marca last year: “I want to understand well the problems of each player and team. Soccer players are not dominoes.”

But besides Diego Simeone, there’s arguably no other former player Inter supporters would love to see in the dugout than Cambiasso.

Having bled black and blue for a decade, the 38-year-old showed he was welded from composite materials of steel and silk, displaying tremendous leadership qualities, aligned with a graceful streak.

The sample size from a coaching perspective is incredibly small as his only post so far is working alongside Jose Pekerman for Colombia during the last World Cup.

His energetic celebrations from the touchline suggests he’ll be as passionate on the touchline as he was on the pitch, though.

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