There has been a revolution in football.
No, the European Super League isn’t back, this is far more chic than that. Football managers have evolved into style icons, outshining the players. The boss class used to be divided into two types; the Tony Pulis tracksuit tribe and the suited Arsène Wengers. Now there is thrilling variety — there are pop star style haircuts, and waistcoats have been replaced by shackets (that’s shirt jackets), and surprised fans are asking if it is okay to fancy the managers.
There has even been research into the effect of what they wear. A study found that historically, tracksuit-wearing managers have narrowly beaten those teams run by men in suits. But now there are cardigans, so what does that mean in this game where the tiniest tweaks can make the world of difference? Here is how the managers measure up…
Trademark: The blazer of glory, by Armani
Vibe: Italy are the slickest team in the tournament so far and, if you want to know why, look no further than the style of their touchline team. They are dressed like top professionals, in matching powder blue-grey Armani suit jackets. It gives the impression of a unified front, paying the Euros the respect it deserves. Roberto Mancini, the perma-tanned manager, is an impressive figurehead, with a long bob (it has always been like this, it is not a pandemic grown-out hair look) and an expressive style — he has presence, authority and looks like he knows his way around a wine list. The team have similar jackets but without collars, which have been controversial. Armani intended them to be a tribute to Enzo Bearzot, the coach behind Italy’s 1982 World Cup winning team, but fans have said it makes them look like chefs ready to produce pizza. Either way, Mancini’s having no part in it. When the game starts, his blazer comes off so he can gesticulate freely, sleeves rolled up to show off his Richard Mille watch (price on arrangement). It features 18 karat white gold and he has said that it shows that he knows time is a strategic resource that must be managed. Why is he wearing a bandage on his other wrist? It’s intriguingly mysterious. He also gives good off-duty style, either in swimming shorts, showing off his torso, or with an Eighties-style blue hoodie — a nod to his heyday playing for the Genoan team Sampdoria (google pictures from him then, he looks like a proto-Paul Mescal). His teammate from those days, Gianluca Vialli (they were called the goal twins), is at his side now, also working for the Italian team in a matching blazer. The only area where he lets himself down is his shoes — wide, round-toed, smart casual lace-ups in navy. They look like the sort of shoe your mum would wear to give her bunions relief. Best keep photos of Bobby M cropped at the waist.
Trademark: His Kelly Osbourne-style bowl cut. Did his wife cut it in lockdown? He thinks it’s more Beatles. There are rumours in Germany that it is a wig but he denies this, saying the suggestion is “rubbish”.
Vibe: The German manager’s style is deceptively simple — another sign England should be on alert when we face our old enemy on Tuesday. You may think he is just wearing T-shirts and therefore not making an effort but these are immaculately pressed, beautifully cut T-shirts that make him look like he is a model for a Scandinavian fashion brand, complete with white Stan Smith trainers. The whole look is fuss-free — nailing his normcore wardrobe basics has freed up time to concentrate on his team. Denmark’s Kasper Hjulmand has a similar approach (see his plain white shirt with statement collars, unbuttoned dangerously low — Scandi drama indeed) If Jogi, as he is known, does get cold he goes for a cardigan or a jumper nonchalantly slung around his neck. It makes him look like a cool head boy, customising his school uniform. Once he wore a suit but with no tie — he is too rock and roll for that. The only tie we can imagine him wearing is around his head, at 3am on a dancefloor, playing air guitar.
Trademark: Accidentally on trend eyebrows
Vibe: From Spain, via a stint helping Wigan avoid relegation, Roberto Martínez looks like how you might draw a typical football manager. Yes, he has made the effort to wear a suit and tie but it is not a style statement. There is nothing flashy about his plain suit, white shirt and tie ensemble. It is in fact often a bit funereal, even though his team are one of the favourites. His head is always neatly shaved and he exudes professional rigour. But that is not to say he is not a laugh. A flash of colour comes from a friendship bracelet in the colours of the Belgian flag — and his eyebrows give his face plenty of personality.
Trademark: A fashion trainer
Vibe: Fashion-wise, this silver fox has a very “off-duty FTSE100 boss on the golf course” vibe — otherwise known as “money” — in his Ralph Lauren polo shirts and chinos. Still, there are flashes of adventure from a man whose motto is “be braver than ever” and who runs the Marathon des Sables — 155-mile race over six days in the Saharan desert — for fun. For example, the chinos are cropped — when it comes to football sidelines, a flash of ankle is as extraordinary as it would have been in Victorian England — and he has a good line in the sort of fashion trainers that are more often seen catwalk-side than pitch-side: chunky-soled Nikes; simple monochrome adidas lace-ups; a Stan Smith. In fashion, as in life, he is his own man.
Trademark: The waterproof
Vibe: In the frenzy of the 2018 World Cup, Gaz’s signature look caused a 35 per cent spike in waistcoat sales at M&S and sent “chap” style mainstream. He has abandoned the three-piece suit in favour of a very “assistant to the regional manager’s” (or, as a less generous friend put it “upmarket pallbearer”) uniform mostly designed by his official outfitter for this tournament, London-based menswear brand, Percival. Dugout looks have included a fairweather suit — a lightweight grey number, worn with Percival’s £109 navy collared knit — and the £199 “waterproof Sherlock” jacket that he debuted at last Friday’s dour (literally and metaphorically) game. Should you wish to dress like the gaffer, the whole range is available on their website.
Like his football, Gaz plays it rather safe. We’d like to see him in a colour — perhaps a patriotic splash of red? Another idea: England wunderkind Phil Foden has dyed his hair platinum blonde for this tournament — and if the team wins, the rest of the boys have promised to follow suit. Perhaps Gaz could commit too?
Trademark: Matchy-matchy navy face mask
Vibe: Deschamps presides over a fractious, divided France camp — Giroud and Mbappe’s strikers’ spat; Benzema’s controversial return from exile over a sex tape — which has resulted in the le gaffer having to create a table plan to keep things civil over dinner. No wonder he keeps his fashion simple, then: dark navy suiting with dark navy shirts, this Euros also accessorised with a neat matching face mask. He knows that tailoring sends a powerful, understated message: ahead of the 2018 World Cup, the team wore navy suits by French tailor Francesco Smalto for their pre-tournament photo. They won the whole thing. Coincidence? Non! Nonetheless, his trim form, neat grey hair and diminutive height — 1.74m in his socks — may put some in mind of a teacher from an Encore Tricolore textbook.