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That is a great point actually, and one that has been debated on these boards as well at a few times in the past. It depends how you classify "coach" and "manager". I suppose you are saying that AW isnt "great" due to squad building and the ability to identify team needs and do whatever it takes to fill those needs.
Difficult one. I still dont know of too many coaches/managers who could do better without running up debt, and one of AW's major focuses has been on building sustainably, without going into debt. Did he get caught out last summer with the departures of Flamini and Hleb? Yeah, probably. But every manager has made mistakes (Rafa paying 18m for Keane is a nice example).
Three Championships is hard to argue with however. That alone should put him into the "great" manager stratosphere.
Paul, it's basically what you said but I would argue that it was his superb coaching ability that brought you the success in the past, not his squad management or man management? Right players not brought in at the right time and other players released at the wrong time (just because they wanted to leave). Sounds like shoddy forward planning to me!
Yes Rafa has his faults (eg man management and dud buys) but he also has his strengths (how win a cup and tactics). If somehow you could fuse the two together, you would have one heck of a manager.
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Sorry, I must have made my point badly, because that was what I meant to say, that you could make the point that AW's negative points would be squad building and retention, while his "coaching" would be his strong points.
Rafa is obviously a great "game-day" and Cup manager. But until he wins a League Championship that is all he will be. I am very old-school when it comes to that. Greatness is measured by League Championships. Cup wins make nice mantlepiece baubles (and in the case of the Champions League, keep the accountants very, very, very happy) but that League trophy is the one by which all are judged.