Friday, May 31, 2013

New managers all around!

With Guardiola's signing of Bayern Munich and Alex Ferguson's goodbye at Manchester United there have already been huge managing news in European football. But lately there have been even more interesting news on this front, most notably the exit of Jose Mourinho from Real Madrid. Notwithstanding that Mourinho is a brilliant manager, what he most takes away from Madrid is that the club was indeed bigger than him, something that must hurt his ego. While the team won a lot of matches, the titles eluded them under Mourinho, and that is really the only thing that matters to such a huge club. At the same time, and this is where I part ways with the Portuguese, is that he did not add much positive to the club. No matter what you think of Real Madrid (and I am certainly an anti-Madridista), it is a club know for great football, proud traditions and a gentlemanly attitude to the game (fans have clapped when an opposing team is just too good! Almost no fans in the world do that!), and with players who are known for being gentlemen on and off the pitch. One of these is Iker Casillas; that he is not playing is Mourinho's insult to what Real Madrid wants to stand for.
So where is he going? All bets seem to be a return to the club where he made his first foreign forays, namely Chelsea. Mourinho will always be bigger than Chelsea, a club that said bye to its latest "interim" coach after Rafa Benitez gave them a European title. Rafa Benitez, a well-traveled manager, is in the meantime returning to Italy, where he already coached Inter Milan, but he is now going south, to Napoli, the runners-up in Serie A and Champions League participants next season. It is surely going to be interesting to see what title he takes them to there!
Real Madrid without a coach is a matter for huge speculation: matters seem centered on Carlo Ancelotti and Jupp Heynckes. The problem with Ancelotti is that Paris St. Germain will not free him of his contract, but Heynckes had announced his retirement; a change to a club that he already once led to Champions League glory in 1998, but fired him anyway that same season, is surely going to raise some eyebrows.
A man that will try again with a club that treated him like that is surely worth investing in!
Another interesting change is that of Manuel Pellegrini who will be replacing Roberto Mancini in Manchester City. Manuel Pellegrini is a hugely experienced coach who first succeeded as coach in his homeland Chile, at Universidad Catolica, and in LDU Quito in Ecuador, as well as in San Lorenzo and River Plate in Argentina. In all places he got titles, and he then went to Villarreal in Spain, which he took to an unprecedented Champions League semifinal. He then went on to Real Madrid, created a solid side that broke the point season record for the club, but without a title, he was out. I always loved his reflection about Real Madrid: "I didn't have a voice or a vote at Madrid. They sign the best players, but not the best players needed in a certain position. It’s no good having an orchestra with the 10 best guitarists if I don’t have a pianist. Real Madrid have the best guitarists, but if I ask them to play the piano they won’t be able to do it so well. He (Florentino Pérez) sold players that I considered important. We didn't win the Champions League because we didn't have a squad properly structured to be able to win it."
His time at Malaga was not a success, but now it will be hugely interesting to see what he can do in a club with money, ambition, and in his first non-Spanish speaking country!
But a lot of pressure and interesting new arrangements all around Europe for next season!

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