MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy's two legends say coaching is in their future, and they agree that Bruce Arena is one of the best managers in the game.
One of the best anywhere.
“As a coach, you're judged on how many championships you've won, how many trophies you've won,” Galaxy captain Robbie Keane, who spent most of his career in the English Premier League before coming to MLS in 2011, said during this week's MLS media roundtable in Southern California. “Bruce is the most successful manager in America. That speaks for itself.
“In terms of America and England, Bruce would be the Alex Ferguson in America, and that's the highest compliment I can give him.”
Arena, a three-time MLS Coach of the Year, has won a record five MLS Cup titles--three with the Galaxy, in 2011, 2012 and 2014--plus three Supporters' Shields, a US Open Cup, a CONCACAF Champions' Cup and seven conference titles. He also guided the US men's national team to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002, narrowly missing a trip to the final four, and captured five NCAA national titles during his tenure at the University of Virginia.
Keane has played for, among others, Gordon Strachan at Coventry City; Glenn Hoddle and Harry Redknapp at Tottenham; Rafa Benitez at Liverpool; and Giovanni Trapattoni, Mick McCarthy and Martin O'Neill with Ireland's national team.
“Every coach I've had, usually the training sessions are very, very similar, in terms of what they do,” Keane said. “Some people's man-management skills are a little bit different than other people's. Sometimes you have fiery people, like Gordon Strachan--he's very, very fiery, will get the best out of players.
“Bruce is very calm around the place and then can have a go at people if things aren't going well.”
Teammate Steven Gerrard, meanwhile, played for Gerard Houllier, Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers during a 17-year stint with Liverpool. He also played for Kevin Keegan, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello and Hodgson with England's national team. Now, he says he wants to win for Arena.
“I've been blessed to work with the best,” Gerrard said. “I've worked with some phenomenal coaches, and Bruce, unfortunately, has got me towards the end of my career, but I've certainly enjoyed the ride so far.
“Very disappointed to go out the playoffs so early last year, but I'm determined to help Bruce have a successful season. Because he's done an awful lot for me. He's gone out of his way to get me here. He showed an aggression and a passion, a love toward me, to get me here, and I'd love nothing better than to finish [this] year on a high, and part of that is for Bruce.”
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Keane's and Gerrard's own managerial careers will have to wait for now.
Keane, age 35, has his UEFA A and B licenses and says he'll begin coaching “when I finish playing, in four years, five years.”
Gerrard, also age 35, has hinted that this could be his final season and has his UEFA B badge. He says he'll be working on his A badge “during this campaign.”
“I'm certainly low down on the ladder, as far as coaching and management roles are concerned,” Gerrard said. “I've got dreams and aspirations of one day moving into them roles, but I think first and foremost you have to be good enough. You can't just expect a big job and a big role because you've played in the Premiership for so many years, you've got so many international caps.
“You've got to get your quality and get some experience and then see what roles come your way and then see whether you feel good enough and actually do them. Because it's a brutal game, being a coach and manager this day and age, especially in the Premier League. Managers are getting 10 games, 12 games [to prove themselves].”