Bernd Schuster says the key to managing a big club is to understand that the players are more important than the coach.
Current Malaga boss Schuster has plenty of experience of both playing and managing at big teams, having played for Cologne, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen, and then coached [among others] Shakhtar Donetsk, Madrid and Besiktas.
The German, whose colourful personality has led to difficulties at various clubs through the years, told FIFA.com that clashes were inevitable if managers did not realise that players must be the protagonists.
“I always trained really well, but the problems I had were more related to personality,” Schuster said. “I had some coaches who were unable to comprehend that at the big clubs, it is the players who are in charge.
"For the fans, for the press, the most important people, the protagonists, are the players. And there was always one who didn’t understand that and who would confront us. That complicated the relationship.”
Schuster replaced current Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga last summer, with both him and the La Liga club’s Qatari owners talking of a long term project, however the season has not started well with most of last season’s best players -- Isco, Jeremy Toulalan, Martin Demichelis and Javier Saviola -- all gone.
Although fans chanted for the German to leave during Monday’s 2-1 home defeat to Athletic Bilbao, he said he was in it for the long haul. “I am very happy,” Schuster said.
“This is a long-term project, because we knew that important players were going to leave, but the idea of forming a new team and implementing a style of play was something that attracted me greatly. And I am happy with the city, the climate -- it’s fantastic.”
Despite spending much of his playing and managerial career in Spain, Schuster, 53, said he liked the idea of working in his home country again at some stage.
“I would like to coach in Germany one day and take with me all my experience, everything I have learned in Spain as a player and a coach,” he said.
“Also, I have always thought that a German-Spanish mix is good for building a team to play good football. Germans have always done well in Spain, and now the Spanish are doing very well in Germany.”
The immediate success of former Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola at Bayern Munich was a good example of this synergy, Schuster said.
“I never doubted Pep would triumph in Germany,” he said. “He is at the best club and, while it’s clear that [Lionel] Messi, Xavi [Hernandez] and [Andres] Iniesta are unique, and that the German philosophy is a little different, he has arrived at a team with players of enormous quality who will help him reach a great level and win titles there.”
Schuster said he himself would like to coach Bayern some day, but he realised that was a tough gig to get. “[Guardiola] is at one of the great teams in world football, so why wouldn’t I want to be in his shoes?” he said.
“But it’s not easy to get there. You have to impress greatly for a club like that to call you.”