How To Become a Football Manager: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated 5 September 2023

A football manager can be an exciting role if football is your field of interest. This role allows you to manage and develop a professional football team, make important financial decisions for football clubs and inspire a generation of young players. If your aim is to become a football manager, you may want to learn more about the responsibilities and requirements of this profession to determine whether it fits your career goals. In this article, we discuss the job roles and qualifications of a football manager and guide you through the process of how to become a football manager.

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How to become a football manager

While there are multiple ways to learn how to become a football manager, you need a specific set of qualifications to manage a football team. Following these steps with dedication can guide you in the right direction:

1. Educate yourself about the game and the managerial process

You may already have some knowledge of how football works, but being a fan isn't enough to understand the process of managing a team successfully. Make sure you understand the role closely to know if it fits your career goals, as there's more to the football manager role than just a team's training and performance. Consider shadowing a manager to learn more about the skills and experience you need for the job.

Knowing the professional rules of football is essential. So read the professional rules to understand the game completely. FIFA manages the international rule for football, and you can easily find the FIFA rulebook online.

2. Acquire the qualifications needed to manage a professional football team

You need a coaching qualification and a few years of professional experience to become a manager. Once you make sure the role fits your career goals, enrol in FA coaching programmes. This could be your first step towards becoming a football manager.

FA provides coaching badges for people interested in pursuing a football manager career. There are five levels of coaching badges. Keep in mind that you can't earn high-level coaching badges without experience, so getting involved in the game is also crucial.

3. Get into football coaching

Of course, getting involved in professional football is the most important thing in your pursuit of a football manager role. Therefore, your next step is to land a football coaching role. This role makes you familiar with essential leadership qualities over the years. Furthermore, having coaching experience is essential to earn high-level coaching badges without which you can't coach or manage top professional football teams.

Related: How to become a football coach (with definition and skills)

4. Advance up to become a football manager

Years of experience in coaching football teams at different levels makes you qualified for high-tier FA coaching badges. After acquiring the highest FA coaching badge, you can coach top teams. You can then apply for the assistant football manager role if you believe you have all the essential qualities to become one. It may be your final step before becoming a football manager.

What qualifications do you need to become a football manager?

Certain qualifications are mandatory to become a football manager at different levels. Only qualified coaches can become football managers, so you may want to start with earning coaching qualifications. Becoming a qualified FA coach can be a good start.

Related: 10 Jobs you can take to enjoy football as a career

FA coaching badges

The Football Association (FA) offers coaching badges of all levels for professional and non-professional individuals interested in coaching. Therefore, as an initial step towards a football manager role, you can earn FA coaching badges. FA coaching badges are essential if you want to become a qualified coach.

At the moment, the badges range from Level 1 to The FA UEFA Pro Licence. You need these badges to become an outstanding coach and eventually a manager. The coaching pathway is essentially a levelled process through which a person learns the fundamentals of football coaching. The courses cover many methods that players learn and develop to pitch instructions at the appropriate level:

FA coaching badge levels

There are five levels to becoming a football coach. The core coaching courses consist of:

  • FA Level 1 in Coaching Football

  • FA Level 2 in Coaching Football

  • FA Level 3 (UEFA B) in Coaching Football

  • FA Level 4 (UEFA A) in Coaching Football

  • FA Level 5 (UEFA Pro) in Coaching Football

Level 1 is an introductory course open to anyone over the age of 16, so you do not need prior football coaching experience to join this level. Level 3 is for coaches working with a team of U-14s upwards in 11 versus 11 formats. After acquiring the level of 4 or higher badge, you can work as a professional manager or coach. Level 1 can cost you around £150, while levels 2, 3, 4 and 5 cost approximately £320, £550, £720 and £3000 respectively.

Apart from getting the badge, working for a football team is a requirement if you want to advance beyond level 2. As long as you keep moving forward, getting the appropriate qualifications and experience, you're not likely to face many problems along the way. Take, for example, the FA Level 1 course. After passing this level, you're eligible to take the FA Level 2 course for a fee. After passing Level 2, it's mandatory to work or volunteer for a club to earn vital experience that can allow you to advance further.

Related: 6 steps for writing an engaging football coach cover letter

What makes a football manager different from a football coach?

Many people often get confused between the responsibilities of a football coach and a football manager. Although these two roles share some similarities, a football manager is a more responsible role that looks after things beyond the football pitch. A football coach is only responsible for training the players and helping them improve their performance. They have nothing to do with factors other than the team's training and performance.

A football manager, on the other hand, is responsible for the overall business of a club, not just the team's performance during the matches. They take ownership of the club's financial decisions, profit and loss, transactions, and the highs and lows of the team's performance. Thus, a football manager's role stretches way beyond the team as they are directly responsible for the success and failure of a club from all aspects.

Responsibilities of a football manager

Apart from being mentally and physically fit, being a football manager requires excellent leadership and tactical skills with exceptional game knowledge. In addition, it may take years of experience in working together with teams and technical people to land this role. A football manager is responsible for managing various affairs of a club, but for every manager, the most important department to manage is the team.

In a professional football team, the manager's responsibilities usually include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • selecting the team of players and choosing their formation for matches

  • planning the game strategy and communicating it effectively with the players on the pitch

  • motivating the players at all times

  • assigning duties to the coaching and medical staff

  • recruiting young and bright players for future training at the youth academy or reserves and fostering their growth and development

  • trading players in the transfer market

  • dealing with the media in pre and post-match interviews and other important events

  • contributing to growing revenue and increasing the club's profit

Essential qualities of a football manager

Football managers are responsible for the success or failure of the club or the team they manage. Excellent technical skills and badges ensure you're a great coach, but you need more than that to become a manager. Here are a few skills that you need for this job.

Confidence and leadership

Football leadership is not just about instructing and guiding the team but also about walking the fine line between discipline and support. Football managers guarantee that everyone takes and follows their instructions seriously without inciting resentment or creating an intimidating environment. They lead hundreds of distinct personalities into the competition and get the most out of each of them.

As the manager, you also have a dominating presence in the club and on the pitch. But you can't expect to take complete control of everything until you believe in yourself ultimately.

Related: Top 9 Leadership Skills To Develop

Ability to make quick decisions

Because quick decisions matter in football, excellent managers have the ability to make great decisions in very short spaces of time. A manager's decisions can immensely impact the morale and performance of the team. Therefore, making rapid and effective decisions is critical.

Related: What is strategic decision-making? (With examples)

Great communication skills

Excellent communication skills are essential in football management. Effective communication helps ensure strategies are well understood and constructive comments are well-received. In addition, football managers know how to change their communication style depending on the situation or the person they communicate with. A good manager can communicate in different styles to get the message across without negatively impacting morale or motivation.

Related: How to Become a Football Commentator

Positivity and passion

Even in defeat, there is always something wonderful to take away from football. The best coaches maintain a positive attitude and focus on possibilities rather than challenges when faced with adversity.

Passion is critical for success, and players typically follow their coaches' lead in this regard. Of course, passion can stem from a desire to be the greatest. Good managers instil a sense of passion in every part of a footballer's career journey.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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