Which managers are truly elite (and can be hired)?
Guus Hiddink has opened the door to a possible return to the Premier League after revealing that he retains a strong appetite and passion for English football following his successful caretaker spell at Chelsea. The Russia manager plans to take a break after next year’s World Cup finals but he described England as a “very attractive” place to work and admitted he is missing the country where he spent the final four months of last season.
Hiddink seemed well suited to coach an elite team in England; he certainly added a toughness to the Blues that didn’t exist under Scolari. His lame decision to bottle up in the first leg against Barcelona in the Champs semis may have been bad for football, but it gave Chelsea a chance to win that only the officials could take away.
Given the tense relationship between Rafa Benitez and the shoddy Liverpool owners, along with the fact that few managers stick around as long as Benitez has if they continue to come up empty, I’ve been trying to determine who I’d like to see replace him if he were to step down.
The list is sickeningly short.
You can argue about which one is better, but certainly Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Grumperson are the most proven and decorated managers in the EPL. But neither will leave their club until they leave the game for good, so no one can put them on a list of guys they’d like to hire. I’d love to have Bill Shankly back but that’s about as likely as Ferguson or Wenger moving on.
Ditto Pep Guardiola. I have no idea how he could top last season at Barcelona other than capturing the treble again, but he’ll be on another sideline about as soon as I will. He’s a Barcelona god who has one of the top 5 jobs in the game (arguably #1). Would you ever leave?
Jose Mourinho probably tops the list of managers who can actually be had. Sure, he’s a temperamental egomaniac, but he’s a temperamental egomaniac who win’a da trophies. And people with his sensitivity and volatility typically need to make a fresh start on a regular basis because either he’s going to blow something out of proportion and walk away or he’ll simply alienate everyone around him and be dismissed the first season he disappoints. I’d take him, Blues background be damned.
People talk about David Moyes as the successor to Sir Alex, and Everton has always performed respectably under his watch, but would you really be thrilled to learn he was assuming control of your club? We have no evidence that he can do more than get about what you would expect out of a decent team.
Harry Redknapp is the darling of the Premiership through 4 games because of Spurs’ hot start, but I’d need to see him finish just as strongly before campaigning for him to take over my squad. Houdini Harry’s an excellent underdog and loves to buy-buy-buy in the transfer market, but we need a larger body of evidence that he can meet towering expectations as opposed to beating meager ones.
Carlo Ancelotti has Chelsea in top form, but either he’s at the start of a long run with the Blues or he’ll fail and bounce to another league. I like what I’ve seen, and I’ll be curious to see if he can have more domestic success in England than he did in Italy.
So we have Mourinho, and that’s about the only person other than Hiddink that I can think of who would conceivably be available and has shown an ability to perform well with an elite team in the EPL.
Who am I missing, Pandagoalies? Are there other elite managers you’d trust with your club?