They say a week is a long time in football – this week could not be more relevant, particularly in the position of Manager (or Head Coach as its often referred to on the continent). In the space of 7 days there have been: two sackings; one slanderous comment which could result in the sack; a caretaker manager bidding to win the Champions League but is not likely to continue that role even if he wins; and the task of replacing a manager who has left to manage the national side. And to add to this, just weeks ago, the most successful manager in recent times has also left his post at Barcelona.
So, starting with Aston Villa and the departure of Alex McLiesh. He was never taken in by many of the fans from the start due to his Birmingham City blue nose history. But in my opinon, more importantly, he hasn’t had the best Premier League record, with his relegation with Birmingham City at the end of the 2010-11 season being the second time he had taken them down. This was proved when Villa finished the 2011-12 season with less points than Birmingham City got relegated with, but due to their being 5 worse teams, they survived. Early rumours are that Villa are looking at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Paul Lambert – but my advice would be stear well clear of the job. The Villa fans crave the success of the past, and in recent years have spent a lot of money on the likes of Darren Bent, Ashley Young, James Milner and Stewart Downing, only to sell them on a couple of years later (I think it is only a matter of time before Bent follows suit with the others) – and the money raised has not been reinvested, with the owners preferring to utilise the youth academy system instead. My choice for the job would be someone of the ilk of Bob Bradley from the USA, the homeland of owner Randy Lerner, or someone like Alan Curbishley who has been out of the job for a while but has a proven track record. The only thing standing in his way however, is that that record has been in keeping clubs in the division, and not winning trophies – but at the minute perhaps this is what Villa need.
Liverpool. King Kenny. Who would have thought he could even get the sack, never mind, have to travel to the owners territory and back again to get the dreaded boot. Hi stats speak for themself though – over £100m spent and no top four finish. Although they have won a cup and hit the woodwork more than anyone else in the league – the Champions League is where the money is at. Again, like Villa, I think Liverpool need to understand that they are no longer one of the big hitters of the Premier League who are feared and almost guaranteed a top four finish each season. Since the days of Rafa Benitiz Liverpool have somewhat stalled and if anything gone backwards under the Kings stewardship, with Manchester City and arguably Tottentham moving ahead of them. With regards to Kenny’s successor – the yanks have in the baseball world adopted an approach of taking in a youngish manager and sticking with them for a number of years and eventually reaping the rewards. For this reason, and mostly to the discontent of most Liverpool fans, I think the replacement will be either AVB or someone of the ilk of Didier Deschamps.
Chelsea – I’ll keep this review short as to get inside Abromovich’s head is almost a mission most impossible. If Roberto Di Matteo wins the Champions League tonight I still don’t the he will keep the job, as Roman will have intentions for someone else. He is known to go for big prominant names, however, the appointment of AVB to marshall the end of the careers of cult heroes such as Terry, Lampard and Drogba backfired, with their omissions leading to poor results (Mereiles isn’t fit to tie Lampards boots!) and ultimately his exit. My tip for the Chelsea managers job is Fabio Cappello. Two weeks ago I would have said possibly Mourinho, but his success in La Liga I think will drive him on to go for the Champions League next season. An outside bet would be Harry Redknapp as I believe Spurs may be at the end of their tether with his off the field issues and disappointment at their poor finish to the season from what looked like a certain 3rd spot.
WBA – this is perhaps the most intriguing of the managerial merry-go-round as they have had their hand forced – had England not taken Hodgson I think his job was the safest in the leaue behing Ferguson, Moyes and Pardew (this season). His work there, an at Fulham, has been nothing short of remarkable – steering both from relegation against the odds and in following seasons pushing them towards european qualification. He will be difficult to replace. I think we could see another cross midlands move with Chris Hughton leaving the blue noses for the Baggies – he, like Hodgson, has again worked wonders and over achieved at Birmigham getting them in to the play-offs before the shear volume of games took its toll (not forgetting their european exploits earlier in the season) – and not forgetting the work he did at Newcastle before his face no longer fit with the owner.
And finally, Blackburn Rovers – who, as I write this, are not managerless, however against the odds this is. I must admit I am biased on this topic with myself being a life-long Blackburn fan and season ticket owner – but the days of winning the league and european qualification are long gone. The question at Ewood is – how has he still got a job? His record is very poor (he can’t be far off the worst win percentage in the premier league now – a record I am sure Tony Adams will be hoping gets broken soon); his tactical knowledge appears to be lacking; hs transfer policy is questionable; and his knowledge of the law appears to be absent. This week he has been seen filmed back in the summer of 2011 sticking the knife in the back of Allardyce and twisting it between the shoulder blades; predicting a cup success; and boasting about his exploits of finding hidden talent at the club. Rightly so, Allardyce has taken legal advice under the accusation of him being a ‘f****** crook’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xcB9XfLjL8), add this to the drink driving prosecution Kean has already faced and he is building up quite a reputation. What frustrates the Blackburn fans most is his lies. Even in the videos the lies still spout out about how he found Olsson (who was playing under Hughes) and how he plucked Jones from the academy (people at other clubs were aware of Jones then as well as fans of the club), and the last nail in the coffin – following relegation, admitting that these were ‘exciting times’ for Blackburn Rovers. I wonder if that offer for Ronaldhino is still on the table. Unfortunately, as it stands, Kean is still in a job and it doesn’t look like he is going anywhere – but the real problem, which most Blackburn fans realise, is the owners, the Venky’s, who have ripped the club to pieces yet shown no interest in running the club. The fear of many is that they will take the parachute payment, sell the prized player assets and then head for the hills – although in the short term this would be devastating, in the long term, this may be the best option. Survival next season is already in doubt.
Bayern Munich 3 – 1 Chelsea
West Ham 3-2 Blackpool
Aston Villa – Alan Curbishley
Chelsea – Fabio Cappello
Liverpool – AVB
WBA – Chris Hughton
Blackburn Rovers – Steve Kean