Monday, October 18, 2010
In a time when owning a football club has become the world's billionaires' favorite pastime, managers are left with the most precarious job in the game, as the fear of new ownership (often resulting into changes at the top) is added to the pressure for results. On the international level, a world cup year usually implies new faces in charge, and for some countries, it is a matter of regaining a status lost during the last competition.
Two months into the 2010/2011 season, it's time to give the "bosses" their first term evaluation.
-German legend Lothar Matthäus, who's taken over the Bulgarian national team since September, recorded his first win in the Euro 2012 qualifiers. His biggest challenge -other than rebuilding a mediocre team- will be to convince Bulgarian genius Dimitar Berbatov, to come out of retirement. Good luck!
-World Cup champion turned successful manager Laurent Blanc, has survived a lousy start with Les Bleus, after delivering two straight wins in Euro qualifiers. France now stands top of its group and offer a fresh new lineup of youngsters like Loïc Rémy (this kid is going places), displaying some enchanting football, and more importantly, delivering results. The fans and the media love it. It's like "The bus of shame" never happened. Bravo!
-Mano Menezes, head of the Seleçao, in currently succeeding at bringing some sense back the five-time champions. The former Corinthians man has called upon the youth for his last few outings, easily dismissing weak opposition. The likes of Neymar, Pato, Lucas Leiva are part of the rebranding process which started with Dunga's departure. They look like the Brazil of...the pre-Dunga era, having brought the magic back to their play.
Vicente Del Bosque is still enjoying the funnest job in the world, Bert Van Marwick of the Netherlands can count on the (long-awaited) rise of the next best striker in the world, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (16 goals in 12 matches so far this season) in the absence of Van Persie and Robben. Being Germany's Jogi Löw (minus the buggers) seems to be relatively easy with such a talented pool of players to choose from. The Mannschaft picked up right where they left off in South Africa, with a series of convincing victories. This team is for real.
Rafael Benitez is the luckiest (or smartest) man alive. He left a sinking ship (LFC) right on time, to take over the best club in the world. I hope he thanked Mourinho for having built and left him such a complete and mature side as Inter.
Our favourite, Arsène Wenger showed once more that he is to be trusted as Boss at the Emirates. Some trophies are more valuable than others...
Roberto Mancini's job as Manchester City's coach appears to be safe for the time being, as the Citizens are trailing league leaders Chelsea by only two points. Money, and some pretty italian-style defensive play, can buy happiness. Sometimes.
Pep Guardiola of Barcelona will have to show how much of a strategist he truly is this season in la Liga, with the Special One and his Galacticos determined to keep first place 'til the end. I thought selling Samuel Eto'o (the man with the hottest goal celebration) was a mistake, let's hope Villa can prove me wrong.
(Two thumbs up for Harry Rednapp who made the signing of the season so far, by bringing Rafa Van der Vaart to Tottenham Hotspur for a modest 8 million pounds)
Today, football coaches are losing some of the power they once enjoyed, and holding a relationship with a group rich youngsters together has become a necessary skill. Roy Hodgson can't keep Liverpool together, Fabio Capello needs Beckham to translate his thoughts to the Three Lions, Sir Alex Ferguson seems helpless in the Rooney saga, and Santos manager Dorival Junior had to learn the hard way that some players, cannot be suspended. Needless to say that the younger managers find it easier to communicate with that careless generation of egocentric supermen.
In two months or so, the January transfer window will open. A new challenge will then arise for these brave aging men. The next post will focus on the players targeted by January spendings.
Until then, I strongly advise you fans to start watching the German Bundesliga. It's by far the most exciting league this season. Laters!