Roll up, roll up to have a go on the managerial merry-go-round. Pick your horse: Real Madrid, Napoli, West Ham, Newcastle, Schalke 04, Derby County, Sunderland. Some top class managers have left their horses vacant, but that only means that there are top class managers available to find a horse.
But who fits where?
Let’s start at Derby. Steve McClaren has had a bit of a renaissance in English eyes over the last few years. He took charge of Derby and for a season and a bit he’s looked like taking them into the Premier League. He’s just fallen short each time and it’s cost him his position. But thanks to the good form he might just find himself offers from higher up. He’s managed to somehow land on his feet.
His successor at Derby is thought to be Paul Clement, the Real Madrid coach who has risen to fame as a young, up and coming football coach who has never played the game professionally, but learning from a great of the business – Carlo Ancelotti – has made him sought after. Taking on a club like Derby would be a good starting point in professional management and the good felicity towards a young, English manager with foreign experience and echoes of Mourinho would be palpable.
His appointment could be hijacked by Sunderland, however. Clement could be tempted – after all, who could resist the bright lights of Sunderland?
Another man who might be tempted is McClaren himself. Sunderland fans might greet this news with a mixed reaction. He failed miserably as England manager, but that’s probably not the whole story. McClaren was always pictured looking a little bit hapless – the ‘wally with the brolly’ didn’t help matters – and the fact that the English fans were promised Scolari and ended up with McClaren is probably one of the reasons he’s so reviled.
But that perception might hold against him at Sunderland too. He’d need a good start to win the fans over, but he’s a man of great experience, he’s managed in Europe and done really well in the North East before. Perhaps he really is the man for the job now that Dick Advocaat has decided that his marriage is more important than Sunderland.
Another man who could do well in the Premier League is Marcelo Bielsa. He’s been linked to West Ham, and if ever there was a club that fitted Bielsa it’s the Hammers. At least for now. Gold and Sullivan, were they to appoint ‘El Loco’ as manager, would effectively be saying to West Fans, ‘You want attacking football – here! Have all the attacking football you can handle!’ Bielsa is the antithesis of Sam Allardyce, and I for one would be giddy if Bielsa came to the Premier League – but the most recent reports see him staying in the south of France. Shame.
One man they can turn to is Roberto Di Matteo. Recently departed from the sinking ship Schalke, he’s a man who knows the Premier League and comes with a promotion, an FA Cup and a Champions League on his CV. How much you put those successes down to his abilities as a manager is a matter of personal taste, but he does have the experience at least to manage in the Premier League.
Then there’s the man who replaced Di Matteo at the Bridge – another man with Premier League experience and another man with European trophies on his CV.
The talk is that Benitez is on his way to Real Madrid and wants Raheem Sterling as his first signing. Which means he wouldn’t be coming back to the Premier League – but it would also mean that Jurgen Klopp won’t be bring that stylish beard and glasses combination to the Bernabeu next season. So if Brendan Rodgers can blow a sigh of relief that Benitez won’t be returning to Anfield to usurp his position, he’ll still have to worry about Klopp.
The hipsters-favourite Klopp loves a pressing style – ‘heavy-metal’ football, as he puts is – and he’d fit very well indeed into the Premier League with an attitude like that. Plus we’d love his hair.
All of this leaves Ancelotti free, too. He’s left Real Madrid and is reportedly heading for a sabbatical rather than returning to management, but that hasn’t stopped AC Milan trying their best to bag him on the rebound. Who needs tinder when an old friend is very interested indeed? All very disrespectful from the Milanello club towards their current beau Filippo Inzaghi, but maybe Carlo is the one that got away.
That’s just the merry-go-round contenders we know of. Manchester City seem content with Manuel Pellegrini despite the talk of Pep Guardiola. Guardiola seems content at Bayern despite his having the nerve to deliver just one trophy to the Allianz Arena this season. The cheek.
Perhaps the two are simply waiting a season. Pep might want one more crack at the Champions League next season and Pellegrini a chance to win back the Premier League. Perhaps both men can leave next season with reputations intact, rather than under a cloud this season.
The merry go round is starting, and with no football to entertain us we have to find out fix somewhere. So roll up and take a turn, it’s a fun way to spend the day. Just be careful that all of the spinning doesn’t make you dizzy.