So Sven is back on these shores; Should we be surprised? Not many would have predicted his return to British football would be at the Walkers, but then again, there is no reason why he wouldn’t; no country is too far, no pay-check too large. In homage to the Swede, here are my list of ten of the most surprising appointments to be made on these shores.
10 Attilo Lombardo & Thomas Brolin, Crystal Palace, 1998 When Mark Goldberg assumed control of the club in 1998, manager Steve Coppell was made Director of Football, thus creating a vacant space for the manager’s position. Goldberg employed the club’s two most flamboyant players to steer the club to safety. Lombardo’s absence through injury made it difficult for him to influence their performances from the pitch, and the club were duly relegated. Brolin left to seemingly gorge on cake, while Lombardo reverted back to a player under new boss Terry Venables.
9 Paulo Sousa, QPR, 2008 Suddenly a very rich club, Flavio Briatore wanted a big name in charge. Paulo Sousa was a gifted player – winning the Champions League back to back with Juventus and Dortmund in ’96 and ’97 – but had no managerial experience. He had coached the Portugal under-15 team, and was then briefly Carlos Queiroz’ assistant with the senior team before he got the call to head to West London. His success as a player was not replicated and he was sacked after 6 months.
8 Dr Jozef Venglos, Aston Villa, 1990 The first non British (or Irish) manager to take control of a top flight club in this country. At the time of his appointment, he had already managed for 24 years with ten different jobs, including stints in Australia, Czechoslovakia, Portugal and Malaysia. Things did not go well and Villa only just survived relegation to the old Second Division. Still, he kept his travel miles up with jobs in Turkey, Oman and even a year with Celtic.
7 Chris Coleman, Real Sociedad, 2007 Not strictly on these shores, but Coleman decided to top up his tan (despite being the most tanned Welshman of all time) and head to sunny Spain. He had actually been recommended by the outgoing manager, John Toshack, and ended up doing a good job, despite the short amount of time he was there. After seven months, and with the club in a heady 5th place, and only one defeat in their last 11 games, he resigned, citing differences with the new club president.
6 Harry Redknapp, Southampton, 2004 Having resigned at Portsmouth due to the appointment of Velimir Zajec as Director of Football, it was only a matter of weeks before Redknapp was appointed boss of the club’s closest rivals. The ease of not having to move house was more important than upsetting any Pompey fans, and Redknapp very nearly kept the struggling Saints up. It was equally as surprising when Redknapp was back at Fratton Park soon after, to do what he couldn’t manage at Southampton and stay up, adding an FA Cup and a lot of expensive players along the way.
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5 Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, 1996 Who? Some lanky Frenchman who had arrived from Japan was never going to make it the Prem. Or, he created some of the best teams the Premiership has ever seen, and has a philosophy to the game unparalleled in this country. He may have had a few barren years recently, but he led The Invincibles, a feat that will almost certainly never be matched.
4 John Barnes, Celtic, 1999 What was he going to do, rap his team-talks? Even under the wing of Kenny Dalglish it was a weird move. For obvious reasons, it was a disaster, and he was sacked pretty swiftly, with Dalglish having to step in.
3 Gazza, Garforth Town, 2010 The little club with the big headlines (remember Socrates?) appointed Gazza as their boss last month. Previous unsuccessful jobs at Algarve United (yes, really) and Kettering have not deterred Garforth from making him their leader, and neither have the drug problems, alcoholism and mental health problems. I love Gazza for all the reasons everyone else does, but management material….
2 Joe f***ing Kinnear, Newcastle, 2008 Mike Ashley suddenly seemed to want as much negative f***ing press as possible in one go; after the c***ing Cockney Mafia had set up their northern faction, and Kevin f***ing Keegan had walked the f*** out, what was needed was the appointment of a blast from the past. Out of the game for four years, and with a heart condition, Joe Kinnear arrived on the scene, swore at every c*** and promptly had to leave to head back to hospital. We haven’t seen the him since.
1 Claude Anelka, Raith Rovers, 2004 Making as much money as possible out of his much more talented brother as his agent. He offered a host of clubs £300,000 to be their manager, and Raith for whatever reason decided that it would be a good idea based on, well I have absolutely no idea. His record at Raith: 8 games, 1 draw and 7 defeats.
I’ll give you £300k if you get updates on my articles by following me on twitter.