October’s international break is a time for unemployed managers across Europe to check their phone(s) nervously and house hunt conspicuously near prominent training grounds.
The threat of relegation or falling short of Champions League qualification can lead chairmen to take the nuclear option of a change of coach.
At the foot of the Premier League, it often means one of Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew, Mark Hughes or Paul Lambert getting the call – although it feels like we may be moving past that generation of managers.
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Here we examine 10 out of work coaches, young and old, and suggest which jobs they may be suited for.
Something of an unknown quantity…Wenger will decide his next move and his intentions are not yet clear. One suspects the days of courtship from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have passed, although their respective difficulties this season could see that revised. Would instantly command the respect of any dressing room, and players enjoy working in the zen-like environment he seeks to create.
Wenger excels at giving talented players the platform to express themselves, while his strengths as a coach lie in attacking patterns and combination play. So while he is no longer at the tactical vanguard, taking a high-quality squad in need of confidence and greater liberty does make some sense. Would be fascinating to see him test himself away from Arsenal.
There are suggestions that Zidane does not have particularly grand ambitions for his managerial career – what is there left after winning three consecutive Champions Leagues? The orthodox conclusion from Zidane’s time at Real Madrid was that he was a supreme massager of egos, which perhaps ignores some of the substitutions and in-game tweaks that turned several knockout games in his favour.
That said, it certainly seems that Zidane is a not a ‘philosophy’ coach. He will not arrive at your club with a grand plan to emboss a new style of play over a five-year period. Managing top-class players as people and getting them over the winning line appears to be Zidane’s speciality. The whiff of cordite continues to linger around Manchester United after two years and more of Jose Mourinho’s confrontational style, so it is plain to see why the calm Zidane is a serious candidate.
Almost certainly the best coach on this list, Conte has been an unqualified success in his last three jobs with Chelsea, Italy and Juventus. Can cut his cloth and organically improve individuals, Conte makes teams more than the sum of their parts through work on the training pitch and tactical flexibility.
Although a good enough coach to manage Man Utd or Real Madrid, one wonders if leading a super-power is the best use of Conte’s talents – despite his multiple titles with Juventus. His iron-discipline and organisation looks suited to a club on the wrung below the real financial behemoths, who want to punch up. After the political struggles that proved his downfall at Chelsea, Conte may also want a greater say on transfers – something Europe’s super-clubs may be unwilling to grant him.
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Lasted just six months at Borussia Dortmund after leading a young Ajax team to the Europa League final, where his strong tactical principles looked an attractive quality. At Dortmund however, Bosz looked an inflexible ideologue, despite five clean sheets straight out of the traps. Bosz was unwilling to abandon a ludicrously high defensive line in a league where opposition counter-attacks pack more of a punch. When he did switch-up from his preferred 4-3-3 system to a back-three in the derby against Schalke, Dortmund surrendered a four-goal lead to draw 4-4. Bosz has been out of work since Dortmund sacked him last December, and a job back in Holland is perhaps most likely.
The coach responsible for cultivating RB Leipzig’s fast, counter-attacking style before he stepped down at the end of last season. That said, RB Leipzig operate with a distinctive sporting hierarchy and much of their success was based on the recruitment of gems such as Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg and of course, Naby Keita. With so many clubs moving towards this more collegiate operating structure, and high-octane pressing football the order of the day, coaches such as Hasenhüttl will be in demand.
The former sports journalist and effortless wearer of scarves, Quique Sanchez Flores was a popular addition to the Premier League, leading Watford to a safe mid-table finish in their first season back as well as an FA Cup semi-final. A limp end to the campaign however saw him ushered through Vicarage Road’s revolving doors.
There followed a move to Espanyol, where he finished eighth in La Liga during his first season. Despite beating Real Madrid and holding Barcelona in February this year, a bad run of form saw him sacked in April with Espanyol perilously positioned above the relegation places. Flores was linked with the Spain job, and there is enough evidence to suggest he is a man of a great promise. Only in football can 53-year-olds be promising.
Does the 66-year-old have one more job in him? Ranieri was sacked by Nantes after just one season, and was sacked by Greece after losing to the Faroe Islands. In between those failures however, was the small matter of winning the Premier League title with Leicester – the most unlikely underdog triumph since Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest. Can be banked on to raise the spirits of any club, although it seems players see him as a bit of a pushover after a while.
A defender who relied on perceptive reading of the game, Blanc was the type of player who looks well-suited to management. Those hopes looked justified when he led Bordeaux to second in Ligue 1 and was named manager of the year in 2008, but he subsequently fell short at the elite level with France and Paris-Saint Germain. That said, no PSG coach has managed to crack the Champions League just yet. Was linked with Chelsea before Maurizio Sarri settled his exit from Napoli.
Frank De Boer
Bombed at Inter, plummeted at Crystal Palace after five games – so why does one get the feeling De Boer might get another chance? A case of the face fitting, perhaps. A recent appearance on Monday Night Football was a useful public relations exercise, and De Boer has strong ideas about how football should be played. There is no greater education in the game than spells at Ajax and Barcelona. Will need to be less headstrong and more diplomatic towards his new charges if he is to succeed in another job.
Moyes clawed back some credibility by keeping West Ham up last season, and generally conducting himself with some class within the tent of the Gold and Sullivan Stratford circus. Moyes’ shot at the bright lights of the Premier League’s top six has passed but he showed himself to be a competent operator at a team in need of discipline and organisation. More likely to get the call than Alan Pardew, that is for certain.
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