Thursday, March 13, 2008

Managerial Silly Season Begins

In the wake of Inter's pitiful showing against Liverpool at the San Siro on Tuesday night, manager Roberto Mancini stunned reporters at the press conference afterwards by announcing he was leaving the club after the season. To be fair, it was probably a smart move on his part, as owner Massimo Moratti was probably going to sack him over the summer anyways after repeated bedshitting in Europe's top level club competition. So Inter is the first big job open, and the rumors are starting to fly. An attempt to sort out the rumor carousel, after the jump.

Rafa Benitez was asked if he would want the Inter job on Tuesday night, and responded that he was happy at Liverpool. But the ongoing turmoil in the boardroom at Anfield might lead him to look for a more stable situation. One place that is likely to have a vacancy is Barcelona, where Frank Rijkaard is almost certainly on his way out, especially in the wake of Barca's two week choke fiesta in La Liga. The Dutchman may be a decent tactician, but he is clearly not a disciplinarian, and Ronaldinho et al appear to be taking full advantage. Even the great Thierry Henry is reportedly disgruntled.

The rumor is that Roman Abramovich would like Rijkaard to take over at Stamford Bridge, where Avram Grant is clearly gone after this season. The loss at Barnsley may have sealed his fate, but its pretty clear that he is out of his depth in trying to manage such an expensive squad. John Terry appears to have decided he doesn't have to listen to the coaching staff, and other less vocal players have probably already tuned out the gaffer. Drogba looks like he is on his way out the door, along with Frank Lampard and the useless Shevchenko (get your wallet out, Alexi Lalas!).

The Rijkaard connection makes sense if Roman is really serious about buying Ronaldinho, but such a laissez faire manager is the worst thing a club like Chelsea needs right now. Jose Mourinho was successful because he had a strong personality and was able to instill discipline in the squad. If Roman wasn't such a starfucker, he would consider someone sensible like Martin O'Neill. Maybe Marco Van Basten would be interested in the wake of the apparent collapse of the Johan Cruyff revolution at Ajax. The most hilarious rumor I have seen is Mancini taking over. Hopefully Roman doesn't read the ebays and see this hilarious diatribe from a Nerazurri blooger.

The media savvy Portuguese was in the news last week claiming that he would like to "kill" Chelsea in the Champions League next year. Jose will have his pick of jobs this summer, and the place where he would be the best fit is at the Nou Camp. Barca are in desperate need of some direction, and Mourinho did feature in the coaching set up there in the 1990s. The Catalan press has even been doing its best to rehabilitate him in the wake of the contentious Champions League ties he presided over. Mourinho is also in play for the Inter job, and Barca will supposedly go for a younger manager, such as Laurent Blanc at Bordeaux, if Jose goes to Milan.

One other "big" job that should be open is at Lyon, where Alain Perrin has underachieved despite winning a crucial match against Bordeaux over the weekend. Lyon were dumped out of the Champions League again this year, and team president Jean-Michel Aulas has indicated his ambition to actually have a deep run in the competition. Didier Deschamps, who took serious dark horse Monaco to the 2004 Champions League final, is rumored to be sniffing around. Whoever is running the club will likely have some serious coin to spend after Lyon unload Benzama during the summer transfer window.

Getting back to Inter, the smart money says they go for Cesare Prandelli, fashion icon and Fiorentina boss, who just finished dumping Everton out of the UEFA Cup. I think the fans want Moratti to "Italianize" the team a bit more (were there any Italians in the starting XI at the San Siro on Tuesday?), and I doubt he looks abroad for a manager. Unless Mourinho is available. He's sooooo hot right now.

[Editor's note: Well apparently Mancini is staying, so disregard all the Inter-based speculation, at least for now. But Avram is still getting sacked...]


Anonymous said...

Despite the 'boardroom drama' at Liverpool, one does not move to a top club at Spain for 'a more stable situation'...

Ian said...

Agree the Rafa is probably staying put.