The Special One reflects on another loss to Pep Guardiola
In this day and age it seems that no manager except Sir Alex Ferguson has any sort of job security whatsoever (remember when he was supposed to retire in 2001? Apparently nobody reminded him). When men with large egos purchase and own soccer clubs it seems that if a manager doesn't win the sextuple in his first season, knives are being sharpened and someone's head has to roll. Its lubricious, but as poor Rafa Benitez found out at Inter Milan, time is money.
The likes of Ferguson and Wenger are a rare breed of manager. They have endured the hills and valleys of their team's fortunes and are kept on to fulfill their vision. Others haven't been so lucky and it seems that once again the manager merry-go-round will begin this summer as clubs around Europe are shopping for new suits to adorn their dugouts.
From the lights of the Santiago Bernabau to the fists and fury of Celtic Park, here are 10 managers who may find themselves shopping for a new apartment in the fall.
Mourinho reacts to another dive from Sergio Busquets
Manager: José Mourinho
Current club: Real Madrid
Possible destination: Chelsea
Chance of it happening: 10%
Brought in to restore Real Madrid to former glory, it seems that not even the Special One has what it takes to knock Barcelona from their lofty pedestal. The Spanish Cup aside, Madrid have been pipped in the Champions League as well as domestically by Pep Guardiola's gang of imps yet again. So will that mean the end for Mourinho in the Spanish capital.
Highly unlikely. He's only had a year, and even though that's a hell of a lot longer than most managers get at Madrid this team has come leaps and bounds in this short amount of time. With another transfer window under his belt, this Madrid team will become that much harder to beat, and that much closer to one-upping their bitter rivals. As long as he has the backing of the brass, Mourinho will stay.
The 10% is not so much that Mourinho doesn't want to, or that Chelsea won't stump up the money for a world-record salary. Its simply that fact that Roman Abromovich won't be able to swallow his pride, admit making a mistake, and get down on his hands and knees to beg the Special One to come back to Stamford Bridge.
Carlo yet again is forced to turn to Fernando Torres
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Current club: Chelsea
Possible destination: Somewhere back in Italy surely
Chance of it happening: 60%
You really have to pity Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea. Not satisfied with one of the most ridiculous transfers in the history of the Premier League (that's Shevchenko for £30.8 million), Abramovich saddled the Italian with Fernando Torres. Aside from being able to give Nicolas Anelka a challenger for "sulkiest player in London", Torres has only served to give Ancelotti another reason to chew gum even harder.
Yes, he won the Premier League in his first season, and yes Chelsea have managed to limp to the finish line and push United close this year. But take a look at this Chelsea side and show me someone who says they have improved from last year and I'll show you a fool. Fatigued, un-inspired, flat and dull. Being forced to shoe-horn Torres into a tried-and-tested 4-3-3 hasn't helped but with the star power available in Blue, Chelsea shouldn't be in the state they are now.
It all comes down to Abramovich at this point. Is he satisfied with this current Chelsea team and their style of play? Is he any closer to finally buying—uh I mean, winning a Champions League? From all the current evidence I'd say no. At this time next year Carlo could be back in Milan enjoying the pamper and praise of his good buddy Silvio Berlusconi
Been there, done that: Rafa Benitez
Manager: Rafa Benitez
Current club: none (sacked from Inter Milan in December)
Possible destination: He wants to manage in England again
Chance of it happening: 80%
Oh Rafa. You should have known that following in the Special One's footsteps is a poisoned chalice no matter how good of a manager you are. No sane soccer fan can question the ability of Benitez and it was with some shock that he was deposed so quickly at Milan. Moratti's folly could well be to the benefit of a Premier League team.
As a manager Benitez checks all the boxes save one, which could be a sticking point before any proposed move to Chelsea could materialize. At both Valencia and Liverpool many a battle was fought over control of transfer business, something Benitez wants the final say over. An owner like Abramovich is unlikely to grant that to any manager, which means Stamford Bridge is surely out of the question (much to the relief of Liverpool fans everywhere).
Noises have been made at Aston Villa, and even without money to spend Benitez could continue the good work that Martin O'Neil started. Cheeky Blackburn have also been linked, and with their new wealthy owners backing the Spaniard a new Manchester City could be in the making. I was sad to see him leave Anfield but we are in good hands with Dalglish so Benitez please whatever you do, DO NOT go to Old Trafford.
It would be too easy to make a joke about his weight here
Manager: Sam Allardyce
Current club: none (sacked from Blackburn Rovers in December)
Possible destination: Any Premier League club looking to beat the drop
Chance of it happening: 60%
Sam Allardyce holds the distinction (alongside Fergie and Mourinho) of without a doubt being able to get under the skin of Arsene Wenger. He also knows how to keep clubs in the Premier League, although "playing football" is not his list of training exercises. Axed by Rovers because he wasn't flashy enough, Blackburn may live to rue their decision if Blackpool and Wolves somehow win their remaining games and Steve Keane fails to get the job done.
He's claimed that he could "easily" win honours with the likes of Real Madrid or Inter Milan but somehow I don't think he'll be getting any calls this summer from either club. A more modest destination of Birmingham or Wolves (if they stay up) may beckon for Allardyce. Renowned for his "rugby" tactics, long-ball hoofing and shameless complaining, Big Sam gets the job done and doesn't care what anyone thinks.
Looking into the crystal ball, it wouldn't be far-fetched fantasy to see Allardyce at Norwich City, Swansea, Cardiff, Reading or Nottingham Forest. If he's REALLY lucky he could very well be the 6th manager of QPR in the last 3 years.
Who the hell is this guy?
Manager: André Villas-Boas
Current club: FC Porto
Possible destination: Chelsea or Juventus
Chance of it happening: 10%
He's the youngest manager in the Portuguese first division, this is his first season at Porto and he's about to experience a Europa League final against fellow countrymen Braga. He's beaten Mourinho's record of unbeaten matches at 36 in a season and he also has the highest number of consecutive wins in the Portuguese league (16). The list goes on. The best part? He has none of Mourinho's arrogance.
"I am not the Special One. Maybe I will be The S**t One" he says. Brilliant. Villas-Boas is certainly a hot property, and he has made waves around Europe in his debut season at the club. It goes without saying then that headline-seekers have linked his name to every club on the planet (including Chelsea), and the man has continued to distance himself with such talk.
This 33 year-old will remain in Portugal for the time being, but certainly not forever. Young, well-groomed and talented managers are a hot prospect in today's game and it won't be long before he receives an offer that is too good to turn down. For now, Villas-Boas will remain with Porto and continue to break club records.
Chelsea fans would love to see Gus back at the bridge
Manager: Guus Hiddink
Current club: Turkey National Team
Possible destination: Chelsea of course
Chance of it happening: 30%
There are few managers as widely respected and coveted as Guus Hiddink, who seems to be able to work wonders with whatever team he involves himself with. He wasn't able to sneak into the 2010 World Cup with Russia but his antics in 2008 were an absolute revelation when he unceremoniously dumped out his native Holland. Hiddink also won many admirers in London when he raised the club from the ashes of Luis Felipe Scolari's failed management attempt.
There has been many a noise made about Abramovich's desire to bring Guus back to the Bridge. Aside from fending off other suitors, it seems that the Dutchman's future will depend on a crucial Euro 2012 qualifying match on June 3rd when Turkey take on Belgium. Right now his team sits 3rd in Group A behind Belgium and Germany, but with only 1 point separating them from 2nd place there is everything to play for this summer.
Would Chelsea fans love to see him back in London? Resounding yes. Will they see him? I don't think they will. He's been there done that, and may look to new challenges, possibly in Italy at Inter Milan. There's also the possibility of another Euro 2012 hopeful attempting to secure Hiddink's services ahead of next years tournament, though Guus has stated that he is looking to return to club management.
Lennon takes a moment to himself
Manager: Neil Lennon
Current club: Celtic
Possible destination: Retirement
Chance of it happening: 50%
Who the hell would ever want to manage Celtic? Or Rangers for that matter. Earlier this month Celtic's current manager Neil Lennon was assaulted by a fan during his teams 3-0 win over Hearts. The man was wrestled to the ground, received a few kicks from Lennon for his troubles and was promptly bundled out of the stadium. It has ignited a furore of condemnation from managers and administrators all over Europe, and it may just push Lennon away from a position that shows promise.
Rangers have had a stranglehold on the "Old Firm" derby for the past few years, and by the time this comes out they could well have secured their third title in a row. So what does this mean for Lennon? He's only been at the job for a year and currently only trails Rangers by a single point. After the latest and most high-profile example of hooliganism in the SPL, however, his very appetite for the game may be called into question.
Another SPL club may come calling, or Lennon could be on his way across the channel to give it a go in England. It is unlikely that a Premier League club would bring on someone as unproven as Lennon but the Championship is rife with ambitious clubs looking for any edge that will let them make the step up.
Where will he end up next?
Manager: Sven-Göran Eriksson
Current club: Leicester City
Possible destination: He could very well show up in your living room
Chance of it happening: 20%
Sven has managed 13 different teams, 10 clubs and three countries in three different continents. His pimping has been well documented by Mourinho and Rooney and it seems that whenever a position becomes available Sven is linked. The mess at Notts County, a failed bid to lead North Korea in 2010 as well as allegations of mischievous behaviour in Mexico are just some of the things Sven has been up to since leaving Manchester City in 2008.
So could Sven be back in the Premier League next season? In short, it's highly unlikely. The well-travelled Swede is finishing off the first of his two-year contract at Championship side Leicester City who are languishing mid-table with no chance of promotion at the end of this campaign. Even if a new offer was to crop up at say, Sunderland or a similar outfit, Sven would likely remain to see out the rest of his current position as planned.
On the other hand, it seems unlikely that Sven will remain out of the soccer limelight for long. He was quick to jump on board the 2010 World Cup bandwagon, taking over Côte d'Ivoire as late as the end of March. The Ivorians were impressed with the good work he did in such a short amount of time, but no long-term deal was offered and Sven was snapped up by Leicester.
Randy Lerner couldn't stump up the cash he needed at Villa
Manager: Martin O'Neill
Current club: none (resigned at Aston Villa in August)
Possible destination: Sunderland or West Ham
Chance of it happening: 50%
Remember when Aston Villa topped the table for a significant chunk of the 2009/2010 season? They managed to beat United, Chelsea and Liverpool that season and ended the season in 6th place for the 3rd year in a row. But just when it looked like O'Neill may have been able to take Villa to the next level and really give themselves a shot in Europe the Irishman left the club, reportedly over a lack of transfer funds being made available.
O'Neill's Aston Villa played a high-octane game on both flanks and were able to make quite a run in the early months but seemed to run out of steam at the end of the season due to a relatively small squad. Looking back the question lingers of what he would have been able to accomplish at Villa had Wall Street not robbed Randy Learner of his wealth. O'Neill went toe-to-toe with the best in England and came out on top on multiple occasions and will surely look to do so again.
West Ham have shown interest regardless of how their season pans out but surely a club with more resources (not to mention playing in the Premier League) would suit a man who belongs in the top half of the table. The talent available at Sunderland would suit the man and enable the club to rise above the mediocrity of Steve Bruce's reign.
He's gotten where Mourinho couldn't at Chelsea
Manager: Avram Grant
Current club: West Ham
Possible destination: I've honestly got no bloody clue
Chance of it happening: 80%
*EDIT* Looks like this sacking is "in the bag"
Oh Avram. Those massive eye-bags have been well earned as Grant's relatively brief managerial history in the Premier League has been one born of frustration and doing what he can with what he has had. It was always going to be impossible to follow in the footsteps of the Special One at Chelsea, but Grant managed something that Mourinho couldn't deliver in London, a Champions League final. Unfortunately John Terry wasn't up the the task but he had almost accomplished the impossible: pleasing Roman Abramovich.
At Portsmouth he managed a club under administration but somehow managed to reach the FA Cup final. At West Ham his team has been rooted to the bottom of the table almost the entire season, and if perhaps Thomas Hitzlsperger hadn't have been crocked at the beginning of the season who knows what could have been? He's huffed and puffed but it'll come down to the last two games of the season to see whether or not West Ham will be competing in the Premier League next season.
If they stay up surely Grant has to go. If they go down then its highly likely the "Davids" will look for a fresh start with a fresh face. So where would that leave the embattled Israeli? Its hard to say, as I can't see another Premier League club taking him on when there are other alternatives available. He has coached extensively in his homeland and may very well return.