Understanding the Role of the Football Manager in Britain and Ireland: A

Seamus R. Kelly, Dublin Institute of Technology

Document Type Article


Using semi-structured tape-recorded interviews with twenty-two players and eighteen managers, this paper utilizes the work of Max Weber in exploring the role of the manager in professional football (soccer). More specifically, Weber’s writings on legitimate authority are used to explore traditional aspects of the role of the contemporary football manager. The findings highlight the lack of formal management training and the widespread assumption within football that previous playing experience is sufficient preparation for entry into management. While many aspects of the management of football clubs have involved increasing professionalization and bureaucratization, the role of the manager has proved remarkably resistant to these processes. The authority of the football manager continues to be based on traditional forms of authoritarianism and this allows managers an unusually high degree of autonomy in defining their own role and places few constraints on the appointment of their support staff.