Xabi Alonso has always done things at his own speed. As a player, it was his coolness, his control, his capacity to wait until precisely the right moment that made him one of the finest midfielders of his generation. As he contemplated the idea of becoming a coach, he saw no reason to change.
He would continue to treat patience as a virtue.
He did not start out on the second phase of his career with a five-year or a 10-year plan in mind. All he knew was that he was not in a rush. “I had an idea that I did not want to go too quickly,” he said.
“But I had not really mapped anything out.”
There were plenty of people who were more than happy to do it for him. Everything about Alonso seemed to indicate not only that he would go into management when his playing days drew to a close, but almost that he should. He had, after all, had the perfect education.
He was as near to a sure thing as it was possible to imagine.
He had played for some of the most garlanded clubs in Europe. He was one of the most decorated players of his generation, having won the Champions League with Liverpool and Real Madrid, domestic titles with Madrid and Bayern Munich, the World Cup and a couple of European Championships with Spain.
He had learned at the knee of pretty much every member of modern coaching’s pantheon: Rafael Benítez at Liverpool; José Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid; Pep Guardiola and Ancelotti again at Bayern Munich. (Even then, he admitted that there is one notable absence from that list: Alonso would have “loved” to have been coached by Jürgen Klopp.)
And, just as important, he had been a keen and gifted student.