Mourinho. Ancelotti. Lippi. Hiddink. Rijkaard.
Whenever a manager at a big club is fired, the rumour mill goes into overdrive and, after having dusted off their list of top managers open to a move (sometimes they’ll pull out the ‘young managers with a bright future’ list as well), they start linking managers randomly to the position in question.
It’s a bit like throwing mud on the wall and seeing what sticks but here at SoccerNews.com we have devised a fairly scientific and accurate formula for determining the real contenders for any particular managerial job.
You see, it starts with understanding what the club wants – and more specifically, what the previous manager lacked (the reasons he got fired).
Perhaps an example will illustrate this better. Consider the case of Chelsea FC and Roman Abramovich. Two managers fired in a season for different reasons but both dismissals will give you a good idea of what Roman wants. Let’s see now:
1. Chelsea must play attractive, attacking football a la Dream Team or barring that, like United and Arsenal. This requires not just a manager with a specific mentality but also supporting coaching / training infrastructure and the right players for the job. Right now Chelsea are still looking for the first one.
2. Chelsea must be recognised and respected as the biggest club in the world. For this they need to win the Champions League, but also dominate England and Europe for a long time.
Both factors point to Roman’s need for love – or rather, his need for Chelsea to be loved. He’s got the basics right – that a team playing attractive football and winning titles will be loved universally (although he’s forgotten the resentment Manchester United bred when they were on top of the world last time around).
Both managers failed to make Chelsea a favourite for the neutrals. Mourinho’s antics infuriated others, Grant failed to inspire faith but overall, neither manager had the charisma to overcome the stigma created by Abramovich’s billions (and no manager will probably be able to overcome it either).
These two also failed in other ways – Grant with authority issues and Mourinho with the criticism his actions attracted.
Keeping all this in mind, the next Chelsea manager would have as many of the following characteristics as possible:
1) A former player with a glowing reputation
2) A manager with a proven record
4) Young and charismatic
Few candidates tick more than 3 boxes, and only one (or two, if you count Deschamps’ record as being good enough) ticks all five – Rijkaard.
Hiddink gets a lot of press but his commitments to Russia mean that’s he’s not moving till at least after the 2010 World Cup. People like Zola and Baresi are too inexperienced, ten Cate is likely to have authority issues and Hughes / Moyes / Keane are hardly the type of managers the Chelsea establishment would consider ‘proven at the top level’.
This leaves us with the usual pretenders – Lippi, Scolari, Eriksson – with the odd Mancini and Ancelotti thrown in for fun’s sake. The last two are most likely not on the list and are only mentioned in passing because their current jobs are in danger. Eriksson’s appointment would be a surprise considering that he’s not the most attack-minded of managers (understatement of the decade) but then again Lippi and Scolari both have different reasons for being discounted (Scolari has already turned down living in England, Lippi has the language barrier).
The final shortlist is most likely comprised of Rijkaard, Deschamps, Lippi and possibly one more candidate. My vote is for Deschamps because of the former Chelsea connection (him opening his mouth about being on the shortlist might hamper his chances though), but Lippi is probably the best manager of the bunch and Rijkaard is most people’s safe bet for making the grade.
Whatever happens – Mourinho isn’t coming back. I’m almost as sure about Hiddink.
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