Picture the scene. It’s the final day of the 2020/21 season and the results incredibly place nineteen teams level at the top. They’re tied on points, goals scored, everything. There is simply nothing to separate them.
The odd team out of course is Fulham who have cobbled together only a few scant wins and looked doomed from the get-go. Even so, the Cottagers are included in the national debate as to how we can determine a title winner. Because fair’s fair.
After much discussion, it is decided that each manager’s matchday fashion sense will be assessed by a bunch of fashionistas. You know the sort: a handful of magazine editors with triple-barrelled names and a guy who calls himself ‘Symbol’ who boasts a sequined bolt through his neck.
Nobody questions the madness of this. We are all too numbed by the craziness of this year to object, so we sit in our air-tight house-bubbles and await the verdicts.
Here’s how the sartorial battle plays out.
20 – Jurgen Klopp
Clearly influenced stylistically by the town oddball who carries a plastic bag full of mysterious objects around as if its gold. Klopp on a matchday, would scare the crap out of you if you encountered him outside your local Spar.
Like Pulis before him, the Liverpool manager has evidently been dragged through the club shop backwards but throw in too his manic glare and bizarre gnashers and unquestionably he’s put the German fashion scene back several decades.
19 – Marcelo Bielsa
Frankly, given the mad genius’ all-consuming obsession with football it’s a small wonder he remembers to tie his own shoelaces. It seems somewhat unfair then to judge him on his trendiness or lack of.
Like his morning porridge and speaking to people not au fait with 3-1-4-3 the wearing of clothes is presumably viewed as a compromise that must be made: a life essential that is a waste of a few minutes but avoids him getting arrested thus wasting even more of his time.
18 – Ralph Hasenhuttl
The Southampton manager’s choice of attire is so uniformly non-descriptive that should he ever lose his senses and accost someone post-game the victim would insist to the police they were attacked by a naked man. Case in point is that its necessary to scroll down almost to the bottom of page one on Google image search to find any item that isn’t slate grey.
17 – Nuno Espirito Santo
The former Porto keeper may look like a hipster who wears a beaded necklace with a story to tell but his fashion choices are in fact as bland as they come.
What frustrates is that Wolves have some seriously cool gear for retail, helped substantially by their striking black and gold contrast and all designed by Adidas.
So why does Nuno always go for the most boring items in stock, worn almost as an after-thought? Could do better.
16 – Chris Wilder
On cold days the Blades boss wears a club coat. On hot days he rocks a polo. On inclement days he puts on a puffer gilet over a hoody. Unfussy and functional his outfits reflect his team to a tee.
15 – Steve Bruce
We love Steve Bruce. How can we not? He wrote Striker!
So hopefully it’s not too unkind to suggest that when the Newcastle gaffer strays from his usual club coat and ventures into a shirt and trousers he brings to mind an uncle first in line at a wedding buffet.
14 – Sean Dyche
No matter the weather or occasion Dyche goes for an unzipped black sports coat – presumably with a packet of Strepsils stashed in the pocket – over a shirt and tie. This lends itself to a Premier League manager resembling a bloke no-one really knows the name of paying his respects at a funeral before heading back to his haulage yard.
13 – Graham Potter
Favours a club-branded coat but on warmer days has been sighted in a sweater and tie combo. Fittingly Potter’s dress sense is as unremarkable as his striking options.
12 – Dean Smith
Sartorially-speaking the Villa boss has two very distinct and contrary looks. In a suit he blends into the background; a middle-management employee whose days are full of meetings about IT strategies and health and safety measures.
In a toggled coat however the 49-year-old could easily pass for a ex-guitarist from a band once signed to Factory.
Go with the coat Dean.
11 – Roy Hodgson
Huge credit must go to the old-timer for not succumbing to septuagenarian wear such as comfortable cardigans littered with biscuit crumbs.
Instead, Woy delights in suits with the shirt daringly unbuttoned, appearing to all the world like he’s ready to romance some divorcees in Starlights.
10 – Brendan Rodgers
His teeth and tan scream mid-life crisis but it has to be said that the Northern Irishman’s touchline attire is surprisingly restrained, even bordering on the tasteful. Silvery-grey coats and tracktops seem to be his thing with the occasional well-fitted suit for trips to the bigger grounds. There really isn’t much to see here and less to criticise.
9 – David Moyes
If the key to looking good is to stay true to yourself then we have to say that Moyesy routinely nails it.
Dour suits drain the colour from your eyes while v-neck sweaters combined with club-crested ties hint at regimental dinners with whisky by the fire-place and brave talk of better days when women knew their place.
If they could speak, Moyes’ clothes would be angry at the paperboy from the council estate for failing to deliver its Telegraph that morning.
8 – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The affable pixie is very much a club coat and tracky bottoms kind of guy; a solid look that will never threaten to break into the top six nor endure relegation.
Incidentally, rumours that the Norwegian has bought some of Sir Alex Ferguson’s old clothes on eBay and wears them in the privacy of his own home while watching endless repeats of the ’99 Champions League final remain unconfirmed and frankly are not pertinent to this list.
7 – Slaven Bilic
The Croatian growler was presumably born in a suit. He probably eats a fry-up in a suit and watches ‘Enders in a suit though he may detach a second button on his shirt to denote relaxation.
6 – Pep Guardiola
By all accounts, Pep is a very sophisticated fella. He drinks wine from bottles that don’t have a twist-cap. He is good mates with a chess grandmaster. He probably knows what symphonies are called without having to refer to the advert they’re played over.
Yet when it comes to fashion his eclectic taste too often lets him down. For every outfit that portrays elegance, there is a hooded grey jardigan. In one recent match, the Catalan wore two sweaters and that’s just plain worrying.
5 – Jose Mourinho
Points are deducted for that purple monstrosity of a tracksuit that was ever-present in Tottenham’s Amazon doc but even so, it shouldn’t be under-estimated how influential the formerly special one has been in improving touchline attire.
Prior to his arrival, even the continental coaches looked like they rummaged through the club’s lost and found box to throw together a matchday outfit. Jose meanwhile stood stylish and proud, in sharp suits usually dark and understated in their hue.
4 – Scott Parker
All classic-cuts, skinny ties, and stylish apparel Scott’s trademark mash-up of Don Draper and Essex wideboy is a treat for the eyes as he orders Michael Hector to get within twenty yards of an opponent.
The dapper 40-year-old is how we all believe we’d look if only it was possible to put down the doughnuts.
3 – Carlo Ancelotti
So thoroughly chic and Italian that he’s even been known to don a 3-piece suit on the touchline, Ancelotti’s style is cool, collected and immaculate. Should you be meeting your girlfriend’s well-to-do parents for the first time and need a makeover who’s the first Premier League coach you’d seek out for assistance? Uncle Carlo, that’s who.
2 – Mikel Arteta
The Gunners boss typically keeps it simple, classy and classic with dark grey sweaters and black trousers and would be neck-and-neck with our winner were it not for his barnet.
Granted, this is about fashion, not appearance but despite this, Arteta’s clunk of shiny, ink-black hair combined with his Milk Tray-man attire makes him reminiscent of a suave villain from a Lego Movie.
1 – Frank Lampard
Congratulations Chelsea on winning your third title in six years, an honour that comes courtesy of having a manager young and attractive enough to pull off anything he adorns in the technical area.
Whether the former England star plumps for a slim-line tracky, a tieless suit, or a casual polo he always looks like he’s strolled straight from a catalogue shoot.