As footballers reach the end of their colourful careers, it's no surprise if they choose to go onto management and coaching after their playing days. Some phenomenal players become phenomenal managers, but it's not always smooth sailing for all.
Sir Alex Ferguson will be remembered for his amazing run at the helm of Manchester United over his career as a forward, despite a prolific goal scoring rate. Whereas someone like Diego Maradona will be remembered for his feats on the pitch, as opposed to his patchy record as a manager.
Management isn't destined for all footballers come the twilight of their playing careers. It's by no means an easy transition as man management requires a depth of involvement much greater than merely a playing squad.
Former Welsh international Carl Robinson has traversed the English football system and the MLS, learning plenty in his time as a player to prepare him for life in management once he retired in 2012.
Nowadays Robinson finds himself in Australia's A-League as manager of the Newcastle Jets, a team who made the league's Grand Final in 2017-18 but have since struggled to recapture the form that propelled them into title contention.
In speaking with Tribalfootball.com, Robinson, formerly of Wolves and Norwich City, delved into the finer details of how he ended up from Canada to Australia as a manager, and what his aspirations are in the future of the A-League post COVID-19, as well as his own aims for his managerial career.
"My initial plan was to spend maybe 3 years in the MLS and return home, but I ended up spending 12 years total as a player and a coach. I was preparing and ready to go into management during my playing days, I flew back to the UK a few times a year to complete my coaching license prior to returning to Canada so I'd be ready to step into management," says Robinson.
The choice to move to the MLS may seem slightly out of the norm for English players and managers, who might prefer to remain in England and work their way up the footballing pyramid. Robinson reveals that his love for the game and his passion for learning is what fuels his ambitions.
While he may be open to travelling to all corners of the globe in order to add to his repertoire, Robinson also cites his family as a big priority for each step in his career, ensuring any move is right for them as a unit and not just beneficial to his resume.
"I will return to the UK at some stage, that's no secret. There have been some options come my way, but what I've said to my family is we'll go when the time comes to go back home. I don't want to find temporary coaching options, I want to learn about different cultures in different countries. There's no substitute for experience, whether that's good bad or indifferent.
"Ideally, I'd like to have experience in a lot of different places. I've got 200 games in the MLS, I'd love to get maybe 100 games in the A-League, maybe explore somewhere in Asia if an opportunity arises. It's a bit different to what managers do when they stay in Britain, I'm open to learning as much as I can while I'm abroad.
"When the time comes to go back, clubs that are looking for coaches will see I've got experience in 3 different continents which will hopefully stand me in good stead."
Merrick's work in the A-League has cemented his status as one of the best manager's the league has seen, however during his final days at Newcastle were dismal and enough to see him let go from his post.
The second wind from dismissing an old manager and hiring a new one are often short lived, but Robinson is adamant he won't let that get the best of him or his Jets' squad. The Welshman knows that COVID-19 has also been a huge disruption to the world of football but remains focused on his philosophies and strategies for the league's proposed restart in July.
"Obviously it's terrible what's gone on with the world, everyone in football has experienced severe setbacks but putting everything on hold has been the right thing to do. Results weren't going their way, I just worked with the players and got to know them and their strengths, and I aim to affect them in a positive way, instil confidence and ultimately build trust.
"Everyone is a boxer until you get punched in the nose, it works the same way in football. I believe that you can impact a team straight away, but you need a full year to build on things you learn in analysis and teaching. Any manager needs time to properly implement their vision."
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