Portrait of an iconic manager – Johan Cruyff

 

There are great players and then there are great managers. Many great players went into management and a bunch of them achieved some degree of success. However, very few can be considered legendary for both their playing career as well as management stints. Johan Cruyff makes both the lists.

Tactics and man-management (Strengths)

Cruyff was an exponent of attractive football and he remained faithful to his footballing principles to the very end. He commanded respect by the virtue of his achievements as a player and his reputation as an erudite genius. And the respect that he commanded was one of his strengths as his players would buy into his tactics wholeheartedly.

Best Spell as manager

Without a doubt, Cruyff’s most successful spell as manager was during his six-year stint at the Camp Nou. The influential Dutchman went on to help the club to four successive league titles – from 1990/91 season to 1993/94. He was also the first manager to win the Blaugrana the much-coveted first ever European Cup in 1992.

The kind of success that Cruyff achieved at the Camp Nou was unheard of and only Real Madrid used to be a dominant force in the Spanish top flight with other teams presenting a challenge every now and then.

Greatest players in his legendary teams

Cruyff was blessed with some of the greatest Barcelona players in history during his six-year stint at the club. There is no wonder then that his team was termed the “dream team”. Pep Guardiola, Michael Laudrup, Andoni Zubizarreta, Hristov Stoichkov, Romario and Ronald Koeman all played under the legendary Dutchman.

Legacy

It is hard to argue against the notion that Cruyff is probably the most influential figure in the history of the beautiful game. He constantly stretched boundaries of possibilities with his imagination, implored others to think for themselves, and consequently, made everyone around him better.

Together with Rinus Michels he is considered to have raised Total Football to levels that no one thought were possible.

Even when he was still a player, his inputs were taken greatly into consideration by Michels. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that while Michels was the manager on the touchline, Cruyff carried the mantle on the pitch. As a manager he taught the same footballing principles to his players to which he was wedded for a lifetime.

It is hard to imagine Barcelona being the same club that they are today, without the work and the wheel that Cruyff put in motion all those years ago.

Place amongst greats

Cruyff’s place amongst the legends of football management is secured. He will always be remembered as a pioneering tactician who was wedded to his belief in playing football in an attractive fashion.

Honours:

Ajax
KNVB Cup: 1985–86, 1986–87
UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1986–87

Barcelona
La Liga: 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94
European Cup: 1991–92
UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1988–89
Copa del Rey: 1989–90
UEFA Super Cup: 1992
Supercopa de Espana: 1991, 1992, 1994