Friday, 17 May 2013
The Managerial Merry Go Round
The football world has been dominated in recent weeks by news of managerial changes.
Sir Alex Ferguson started it all off by announcing his shock decision to retire as manager of Manchester United. United moved quickly to appoint David Moyes as his replacement which created a vacancy at Everton. I'm not totally convinced that Moyes is the right man for the job but most United fans seem happy with him and believe that he deserves a shot at one of the big jobs.
My own opinion is that United don't need to take a gamble on anyone. They're one of the biggest clubs in the world and could have pretty much anyone they wanted. For me Moyes is an unnecessary risk and they should have went for someone with a proven record who could guarantee success. Time will tell how good Moyes is but for me his record at Everton is pretty much par as he has them performing at the level I'd expect Everton to be at.
The Everton board now have to look at who they want to replace Moyes. Much of the talk has been about Roberto Martinez and Neil Lennon. Of those two Martinez would be a better appointment but I think he might give Wigan another year as he won't want to end his time there as the manager who got them relegated.
That leaves Neil Lennon but as a Celtic fan I don't think he would be a great appointment for Everton. His stock was increased by the Champions League run but from watching Celtic every week I'm not convinced by him. He seems to struggle to motivate the players in certain games and some of the changes he makes during games are bizarre.
Whilst I don't think Everton should appoint him, the Celtic fan in me would love it to happen. I love Neil Lennon and he will rightfully be remembered as a club legend for his time as a player. He played and later captained us through what was a very successful period in our history but I genuinely don't think he has the right attributes to be a long term manager at Celtic. If he were to take the Everton job he could leave Celtic with his head held high. I would hate it if he stayed at the club and ended up being sacked as it's the last thing he deserves for all the years service but unless the domestic performances improve it is a realistic possibility.
The man who I would like to see get the Everton job is Gus Poyet. Poyet has done a fine job since his playing days ended, coaching at Leeds and Tottenham before taking on the Brighton manager's job. In his time at Leeds he assisted Dennis Wise and whether it was coincidental or not, there was a huge drop in fortunes when Poyet left for Tottenham. Personally, I think it was no coincidence and that Poyet was the brains behind the operation but we will never know for sure.
In his time at Brighton he has took them from being a relegation threatened League One club to the Championship playoffs. His CV is almost identical to David Moyes' at this stage in his career. Moyes took over a struggling Preston before guiding them to promotion and then losing in the playoffs for promotion to the Premier League. The move may have been made a little easier too with the news that Poyet has been suspended as Brighton manager for a "breach of contract." In one of his interviews after losing in the playoff semi-finals to Crystal Palace he commented on his future, indicating that he did not know whether or not he would be at Brighton next year. It may be messy but it certainly looks like Poyet's time at Brighton is coming to an end and Everton would be perfect move for both parties.
Another big job up for grabs is Manchester City. Roberto Mancini was sacked on Monday following City's FA Cup Final defeat to relegated, Wigan Athletic. In my honest opinion it was only a matter of time before Mancini was sacked and I think the club will be better off without him. Mancini earned a reputation as a top manager after winning three Serie A titles with Inter Milan. When you read it like that it looks impressive. However, the fact is he never won the first title. Inter finished third that year but Juventus and AC Milan were deducted points after being caught up in a match fixing scandal which meant Inter were awarded the title. The following season saw Juventus playing in Serie B and AC Milan beginning the year minus eight points and understandably Inter romped to the title. In Mancini's final season at Inter, he won another title, narrowly edging Roma to the championship. Juventus were still recovering from the effects of losing half their squad the season before and Milan's ageing squad was finally catching up on them.
On paper, Mancini's three Serie A titles look impressive but when investigated a little further, the record really isn't as good as it seems. He also struggled to make an impact in the Champions League and made the Quarter-Finals on just one occasion. He was eventually sacked after the 2007/08 season and replaced by Jose Mourinho. This decision was criticised by many at the time but Mourinho went onto win the Champions League in his second season so the Inter board were proven to be right in the end.
Since Mancini arrived in Manchester he was well backed by the owners who spent millions to give him all the tools he required to make City a top team not only in England but also in Europe. In three and a half years he managed to pick up an FA Cup and the Premier League title but for the money he spent I don't think the City owners got value for money. Once again his European record was terrible with City twice failing to make it out of the group stages of the Champions League. Many will point to the groups they have been drawn into and there is no doubt they have had tough draws but for the money he has spent and the squad at his disposal it was nowhere near good enough. Last year Bayern Munich and Napoli made it out of the group ahead of City. Bayern Munich was fair enough but Napoli weren't world beaters and City should have been able to get the better of them. This year people will say that Dortmund and Real Madrid went onto reach the Final and the Semi-Final which is a fair point but they finished bottom of the group behind those two and Ajax who went on to get knocked out of the Europa League by Steaua Bucharest.
For me it was the right decision and thoughts now turn to who will replace him. Manuel Pellegrini appears to be the hot favourite and I think he would be a decent man to get the nod. His record since coming to Europe has been impressive. In his time at Villarreal he took a small provincial club to the Champions League Semi-Final before losing out narrowly to Arsenal. He also guided them to a second place finish in La Liga. After leaving Villarreal he had a year at Real Madrid were he never done much wrong but just finished behind the best team in the world. His Real Madrid team finished the year with ninety-six points which was a club record at the time but Barcelona managed ninety-nine to pip Madrid to the title. After being released from Real Madrid he moved to Malaga. Malaga were another provincial club but once again he managed to guide them to the Champions League and they were extremely unlucky to be knocked out by Borussia Dortmund after conceding two goals in stoppage time.
Pellegrini is yet to be officially confirmed as City manager but it looks as though it's just a matter of time before he gets the job and if the board give him the financial backing they gave Mancini, I expect the trophy cabinet at Eastlands to have a few pots in it by the end of next season.
The other big job opening in England is the poisoned chalice at Stamford Bridge. The only thing Roman Abramovich loves more than winning trophies is appointing new managers and Chelsea will have yet another new man in the dugout when the 2013/14 season kicks off. Rafa Benitez has done a decent job as interim manager, qualifying for next years Champions League and winning the Europa League but his position is untenable as he has a fractured relationship with the Chelsea fans which dates back to his time as Liverpool manager. It's a pity as Benitez has done well and deserves a crack at it but there's no chance of it happening.
The media and pretty much everyone in the footballing world seem to think that the job is Jose Mourinho's. He has had a rough spell in Madrid and in typical Mourinho fashion he has clashed with players, media and fans. It seems that he has decided that enough is enough and he will leave at the end of the season. He always said he felt there was unfinished business at Chelsea and it looks as though he feels now is the time to go back and finish what he started.
I am a big Mourinho fan but I do have a few reservations about this appointment. Everyone knows about Mourinho's ego and for anyone that doesn't I've no doubt Jose himself would be only too happy to tell you how great he is. The problem is Chelsea already have a huge ego at the club and Mourinho's biggest problem is the other big ego sits in the board room and is the guy who signs all the cheques. It didn't work out between Mourinho and Abramovich the last time so why is it going to work this time? As I see it, nothing has changed since last time. If anything they've both got worse and I just don't see this story having a happy ending.
If Mourinho does leave Real Madrid, that will be another huge job that needs a big name manager. Rumour has it that Carlo Ancellotti may be in line to leave PSG to take it which in turn would leave another huge job to be filled.
Whilst all this managerial merry go round is happening there is one man who I would like to see make a move to one of the bigger clubs. That man is Borussia Dortmund manager, Jurgen Klopp. Klopp has done an amazing job at Dortmund and many people will ask would he leave the Champions League finalists but with the news that Mario Gotze is leaving for Bayern Munich and rumours circulating that Ilkay Gundogan, Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels could also be moving on you would wonder will Klopp want to rebuild the squad again. Gotze on his own is a huge loss to Dortmund but if the others leave too then surely Klopp will have to consider his future. The one thing standing in the way is Klopp seems to be one of the few in football who have loyalty and respect for their contracts but I just wonder how many more players he can afford to lose and still feel he can keep Dortmund competitive.
Right now there seems to be more questions than answers and with the Premier League finishing this weekend there may be even more managerial casualties and as the weeks pass things should become a little clearer. With new managers usually comes new signings so despite the fact that the league is coming to an end at the weekend, the real drama is just about to get under way.