They may have bowed out of the World but that doesn’t tale away from the tactician’s remarkable work with the South Americans.
As Uruguay were on the crisp of recording a famous victory against European champions Portugal, Oscar Tabarez was up briskly standing on his crutch and shouting instructions to his players. He wanted them to maintain concentration and give their 100% right before the final whistle blew, which helped the manager breathe a sigh of relief.
The impressive win, which was helped by the brilliance of Edinson Cavani, was the absolute high point of their FIFA World Cup campaign, which might’ve ended on a sour note after their loss to a superior French side, but that victory proved a sense of improvement in their game.
Tabarez did a terrific job in organizing the shape of Uruguay, who only conceded three goals in five games. They might’ve initially stuttered in the group stages, but looked a very focused team who gel superbly as a unit thanks to Tabarez’s work. The 71-year-old tactician has been managing for over three decades and been Uruguay boss for 12 years.
But, prior to the tournament, Tabarez was hit with a shock when it was discovered that he has an illness called the “Guillain-Barre syndrome”, which is a disease that attacks the nervous system. It causes muscular weakness in the chest and limbs and can often result in breathing difficulties and effect cardiac functions in the body. It’s because of this that Tabarez has mostly been seen on camera sitting in the dugout or standing with crutches, rather than motivating his players more often from the sidelines.
Oscar Tabarez’s commitment is second to none
But there’s no illness in the world which can keep down a hard-worker like Tabarez, who has achieved a lot for Uruguay and helped them re-establish themselves as South American giants, after a hollow period in recent decades. He’s in the same breed as the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger and Tabarez’s battle with his illness to keep on managing proves his ultimate resolve.
While some might think that the workload of international managers is relatively less due to their limited working days, that couldn’t be more wrong as managers like Tabarez have to follow everything related to Uruguayan football to unearth the best players. In this World Cup itself, Uruguay have given rise to some lesser-known talents like Diego Laxalt or Lucas Torreira and Tabarez’s gamble of playing them ahead of more “experienced” candidates paid dividends.
But, something which “El Maestro” has done in his years as Uruguay coach is clean up their image of playing “dirty football,” which they did before he arrived. While they might not have the most balanced squad, Uruguay played some attractive football and utilized their talents amazingly. He’s also made them a rock-solid team in recent years, with their defensive structure being extremely difficult to break down for even the toughest of teams.
While Uruguay lacked a proper creative outlet in the World Cup and Tabarez might made some errors in judgement against France, the way they played won over the hearts of many fans. He might be nearing the end of his under-appreciated career, but the way he led Urugay thrive as underdogs and stun many with their effective football will always keep him in top company amongst international managers.
Pep Guardiola recently explained that he will not be managing in his late 60s, as he can’t cope with the pressure of management for so long. His peer Zinadine Zidane recently shocked everyone by stepping down as Real Madrid manager, despite winning the Champions League three times in a row. He explained that he was “tired” of the job and taking some time off from management, as he couldn’t handle the pressure anymore.
It seems like modern-day managers, even the best of them, are growing tired from the pressure of being a manager in the long run. They can definitely learn from Tabarez, who has not only overhauled the whole system, but brought back dignity and respect to Uruguayan football with his incredible work-ethic, which even a career-threatening disease hasn’t been able to alter.