Monday 3 March 2008

Looking for Mr Right?

There have been a number of managerial vacancies in recent months, both at club and national level with some key ones becoming vacant after the departure of the Republic of Ireland manager last October. In the wake of Steve Staunton's departure job openings arose at National level in the Football Association in England when Steve McClaren's tenure was terminated; at the Scottish FA when Alex McLeish took up the opportunity with Birmingham City and in Holland when Marco van Basten announced his intention to step down after the EURO 2008 championships in Austria and Switzerland this summer.

In the chilly autumn air of Scandinavia, another Englishman, Roy Hodgson fancied a change and he decided to leave his position in charge of Finland. In Serbia there was also some turmoil in football circles as former Spanish manager, Javier Clemente, also found himself out of work. In Bulgaria too Hristo Stocihkov had left a vacancy since his walk out last year and so they were looking for their “Mr Right”.

In the Premier League the turbulence started in September when Stamford Budge saw the "Special one” hand in his notice and returning to Portugal. During October it was the turn of Sammy Lee to leave Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur vacated the managerial hot seat with the removal of Martin Jol. A month later saw Chris Hutchings gone from Wigan, Lawrie Sanchez out of a job at Fulham and Derby manager Billy Davies lose his position at Derby County. The changes thrown up in December had Hibernians lose John Collins, who decided to step down from his post not long after the National Manger had moved down south.

In Europe one of top clubs heard the intentions of Bayern Munich's Ottmar Hitzfeld made known as he sated he would finish at the end of the season leaving Uli Hoeness Deputy Executive Chairman on the look out for a replacement. In Spain the major change happened at Sevilla with Jun de Ramos handing in his papers to his chairman in October. All-in all it was a very busy period.

Against that backdrop the Republic of Ireland were also on the lookout for a new manager after the FAI ended the reign of their manager half way through a four year agreement. Since that day the search has been under way and the race has been on to find the right replacement along with all the other football organisations seeking to make appointments as well. In the 90 days that have passed since that chilly October night near Dublin Airport most of the other searches have been concluded. For the Republic of Ireland the only whisper to be heard now is the imminent arrival of Samba Soccer to Dublin when Brazil play art Croke Park on February 6th.

Even at the Africa Cup of Nations the Ivory Coast had their preparations thrown into disarray when former Real Madrid and West German defender, Uli Stielike, had to rush home when his son feel seriously ill only two weeks before the opening game. Amidst such a human crisis the Ivory Coast FA hired Gerard Gil for the job relying on his experience at Olympic Marseille and Egypt to guide them at short notice. It seems that all things are possible; at greater speed elsewhere and with greater efficacy.

Indeed the decision by Bayern Munich to name the replacement for Hitzfeld this early on has been viewed as a marketing coup allowing the club set out the commercial intentions with the return of Juergen Klinsmann to his old club. Although the Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Bayern had been critical of Klinsmann prior to the 2006 World Cup, and being no slouch at major soccer events himself, the utterings of Franz Beckenbauer's are normally not to be ignored. In the end history records that the Klinsmann and Joachim Loew partnership brought the team to a more advanced stage than perhaps anyone expected before finally submitting to Italy in the semi - final. Next season Beckenbauer will have Klinsmann at the helm of Bayern Munich and even if the sounds so far are optimistic ones no one can be sure that Juergen will relay be Mr Right.

During the past three months most of the vacancies have been filled the latest being Javier Clemente appointed as the Manager of Iran for the 2010 World Cup. Only the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) and the FAI who have yet to declare their choices and the sense in Amsterdam is that it is less of a hurry as they do not really need anyone in place until after EURO 2008. But then in Dublin there seems to be no sense of hurry either despite all the vacancies that arose since October having been filled.

Maybe we really are the only ones looking for Mr Perfect though?

OSM - All rights reserved 2009

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