The Question: which ex-player surprised you as a manager?

Hi everyone, and welcome to a new feature. Here I’ll be asking you how you feel about various football issues, and hopefully we can discuss these in a way that feels a bit less destructive than it does on Twitter.

After years of feeling inevitable, Xavi is finally Barcelona manager. I wrote about my thoughts on this over on the paid side, but it got me thinking: we really never know what to expect from an ex-player turned manager until they get into the dugout. Football’s history is littered with great names who fell flat on their faces once they turned to coaching. Equally, there are figures who never seemed quite right for it but ended up thriving.

So I ask: who really surprised you, in either a positive or negative way?

I’ll go first: I never believed Steven Gerrard was cut out for management. He never struck me as someone with great tactical discipline as a player, so cue my surprise when he builds a Rangers team around supreme discipline and organisation. He’s an example both of how managers can approach things differently to their playing days, and the importance of delineating (people who know these things seem to rate Michael Beale very highly).

Who surprised you?