Lack of wise old bosses is pushing talented but inexperienced coaches into elite jobs | first division


For an elite football club, who makes the ideal candidate for a management position? The checklist includes the following: progressive football, preferably pressure; adaptability to different cultures; Previous elite experience with cutlery preferred; Experience in human resources within an organizational structure where upward management is key. And at least in English football, a charismatic carnival barker act with the media is still preferred, while the increasingly powerful class of sporting directors remain publicly silent.

What Arne Slot will take the title of head coach at Anfield it is pertinent; Jürgen Klopp was –definitely– the manager of Liverpool. But now the club's football operations are headed by Michael Edwards, assisted by Julian Ward, successive former sporting directors who returned once the German's departure was announced.

If Pep Guardiola is the master of Manchester City, the club's structure suited the aristocratic specifications of the Catalan genius, Klopp, although diplomatic in public, occasionally clashed with the Fenway Sports Group hierarchy. He turned out to be so irreplaceable that his job was retired and he could well be among the last giants.

january announcement of Klopp's departure, and Slot's eventual selection, preceded a glut of available vacancies across Europe. As things stand, six of this season's Premier League clubs will start next season under new management.

That's not including Manchester United, where Erik ten Hag's future is uncertain in the best case. On Friday, Xavi was dropped by Barcelona, ​​while Stefano Pioli said goodbye after Milan's match against Salernitana on Saturday. That happened a week after Juventus fired Massimiliano Allegri.

So there are plenty of opportunities, but who are the candidates in what appears to be a seller's market? It turns out that there are not many that meet the aforementioned criteria. There was a time when Xabi Alonso had the option to choose between Liverpool, Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich and perhaps even Real Madrid. He then decided to stay at Bayer Leverkusen. Should he suddenly re-enter the market, Barcelona and Bayern remain possibilities and that looming vacancy at United joins Chelsea and three Italian clubs.

Alonso fits perfectly into the above list, even if Bayer's pressing game, with its collective of talented youngsters and new-look officials, was destroyed by 66-year-old Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta in Wednesday's match. european league final. Gasperini's success in Dublin is a reminder that the eccentric but lucid still have their place in the game. Carlo Ancelotti, who has negotiated the egos and power structures in Europe's top five leagues for the past three decades, can collect his fifth Champions League winner's medal as manager next Saturday at Wembley.

Xabi Alonso, who will follow his Bayer Leverkusen players through a guard of honor to collect their Europa League runners-up medals, will remain at the German club next season. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA/Getty Images

The problem for those clubs increasingly desperate for a new coach is that there are no young Ancelotti, Klopp or Guardiola on the market. The corporate and financial element that now includes elite football makes finding the best coaches more difficult.

It has given rise to a curious series of equations, including the strange cases of Kieran McKenna and Enzo Maresca, who have never overseen a top-flight match between them and yet are both linked with some of the continent's biggest clubs. McKenna's heroics at Ipswich may well have given him a choice between Brighton, Chelsea and United.

Meanwhile, Vincent Kompany, after Burnley won just five Premier League games, amassed 24 points and always looked unlikely to avoid relegation, appears to be heading to Bayern Munich. That list again: Kompany has charisma, in Belgium he is known as “President”; Burnley at least played attacking football; He has an MBA and has spoken German since his time in Hamburg. He speaks both the local language and the business lingua franca of the suits. The only thing he's missing is any evidence (be it from Anderlecht or Turf Moor) that he is anything like an elite coach.

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He replaces Thomas Tuchel, who intentionally failed the test of maintaining relationships with Bayern's power legends and powerful executives, but who could now end up working for Sir Jim Ratcliffe. Tuchel is the master tactician who lacks tact, as evidenced by spiteful exits from Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and now Bayern.

Manchester United's new flirtations with corporate types such as Gareth Southgate and Graham Potter give the impression that Ratcliffe is looking for holistic operators to work within a structure in which the billionaire calls the shots, having already – infamously – brought the Ineos securities to the Old Trafford offices. .

Brighton explored the unique talents of Roberto De Zerbi, but his refusal to change the structure established by owner Tony Bloom and chief executive Paul Barber resulted in the Italian leaving with two years left on his contract and with their blessing. De Zerbi wanted to incorporate more players between 25 and 30 years old, but they denied him.

Chelsea, a club that takes a lot from Brighton, including an abundance of talent on the pitch and in the backroom, would not seem to be a good fit for De Zerbi considering the much friendlier Mauricio Pochettino looked absolutely miserable while working for the club's owning consortium. The rebels will simply have to forge their own path.

While Liverpool and Klopp became indivisible, the corporate governance of football means that the model in which the manager is the most important agent of a club is being discontinued, even if that comes at the price of success, continuity and, as demonstrates this summer, viable candidates.

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