VANCOUVER, B.C. — Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos is wanting to make the most of the current soccer shutdown. His aim is a simple one — to come out of the whole situation a better person.
He's learning to be a better cook. Italian is his cuisine of choice. Football-wise, Dos Santos is using this free time to revisit the Whitecaps' model of play, thinking about how the team can look when they return and watching matches featuring teams that inspire what he wants the 'Caps to be about on the pitch.
Always keen to learn what he can from the best coaches around the world, Dos Santos' coaching influences are many. So if he could be quarantined right now with one other football manager, to pick his brains and share their experiences, who would it be?
"Jürgen Klopp, by far," Dos Santos told MLSsoccer.com. "There's two coaches, to be honest, that I'd love to [spend time with]. If I could have breakfast all morning with one and then be with the other for the day, I would do that. It's Klopp and Maurizio Sarri, and for different reasons. Those are the two coaches in the last three or four years that have impacted my way of thinking football."
Both managers inspire Dos Santos with the way they play and approach the game.
"Klopp brings a lot of noise in his football," Dos Santos explained. "He wants the opponent to have the ball so he can win it and then with the mentality of attacking right away. It's go go go. It's aggressive. He lives that on the sideline too.
"With Sarri, how he went from working in a shoe shop, from nothing, to coaching amateur football in the fifth or sixth division of Italy, then moving up the ranks that brought him to Napoli, Chelsea, and then Juve. I think it's incredible."
Another coach, whose style of play when he managed Chile in the late 90’s is often cited by Dos Santos as the way he would love his own teams to play if he didn't have budgetary restrictions, is current Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa.
"There's a lot of things with Bielsa that are do or die," Dos Santos said. "He gives courage to the players. It's not being afraid. It's when you don't have the ball you want to get it right away, and that side of Bielsa especially, when he coached the national team of Chile, was impressive."
To continue to grow as a coach, Dos Santos believes, you need to constantly be able to adapt to new philosophies, taking little bits here and there from other coaches to mesh with your own ideas.
"From day one when I started coaching to today, there's a lot of coaches that have made my way of thinking football grow," Dos Santos said. "When I look back at when I started to motivate myself to become a coach till today, I'm not going to say that it's only one or two coaches that have inspired me. If you have a clear idea of how you want to play, there's little things from different teams and different coaches, that you're going to have to get."
It's not been all work and no play for Dos Santos during this enforced break. He unwinds in the evening with a glass of wine, playing a little guitar and finally catching up on some documentaries and movies. But even with those, it's something of a busman's holiday.
There's two standout football movies for Dos Santos, both about English managerial stalwarts - "The Damned United", the 2009 movie that centered around Brian Clough's turbulent 44 days as Leeds United manager in 1974, and the 2018 film "Bobby Robson: More Than A Manager".
"I thought it was fantastic," Dos Santos enthused of The Damned United. "I would love to be close to a coach like that. Bobby Robson's story is incredibly motivating. What a good man he was and a good coach." Dos Santos’ coaching career has taken him across Canada, to the US, and to Brazil. It's seen a lot of success, but also a lot of travel and being away from his family.
"If I was talking to a friend, I'd say don't get married now," Dos Santos laughed. "Do your career and go on, because if you're married, you need to have a wife that is kind of crazy in a good way. It's very hard for you to do a career as a coach in your city, with your wife having a job, and doing 20 years, that's not real life.
"Real life as a coach is that you sometimes have to go to places that are dark or that people think are a step back, but you realize it's [to help your career]... You can't be afraid of taking risks."